Early chapter books aren’t my specialty. I don’t read them often, but my son was in need of a new series, so I read The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet, the first book of The Secrets of Droon. I was impressed. The story was very simplistic, of course, but what takes me twenty minutes to breeze through takes him several hours. That’s enough time for a child to be thoroughly immersed in a magical adventure.
Eric Hinkle and his friends Neil and Julie are regular soccer-playing kids who stumble onto a stairway that leads to Droon. But Droon is an unhappy land, terrorized by the evil Lord Sparr. Princess Keeah charges Eric with delivering an important message to Galen Longbeard, the five hundred-year-old wizard. Shortly after, she’s captured by Ninns (Lord Sparr’s red, fat-faced minnions) who ride groggles (flying lizards). Even worse, Lord Sparr is close to finding the first of Three Powers that would give him dominion over the whole world. It’s up to Eric and friends to set things right.
This is a well-done story for only eighty pages of large type. Sentences and chapters are short and manageable. Words and names are mostly phonetic, easy to sound out, like “Sparr” and “Zorfendorf.” It does include some more challenging vocabulary words like “invisible” and “petrified,” but I like to see a few stretchers. I’d call it an easy third grade read and a real kid-pleaser. And there are FORTY books in this series to keep them reading.