magical helper comes to the aid of a worried young boy in this chapter book.
There’s a bond between young kuzoolies—magical, human-sized fairylike creatures with wings—and children. Only kids can see them, and even then, only the kuzoolies who aren’t fully grown. Feyi Fay is a young blue-winged kuzooly with chocolate-colored skin and coffee-colored eyes. Via a magical phone app that only kids know about, Feyi learns that a boy in London needs her help. Tom, about 6, has messy blond hair and a problem. He’s heard from his friend Tunde that a Madam Koi Koi (named for the sound she makes when walking) takes kids away who open their eyes after going to bed. Now he can’t sleep, and he hears noises from the living room. This must mean that “Madam Koi Koi is talking to my mom and they are plotting to take away my ice cream…forever!” As evidence, a strange pair of red high heels can be seen under the crack in the bedroom door—shoes that make the sound “Koi Koi Koi.” If Tom will be brave and ask his mother, Feyi can protect them from Madam Koi Koi with various magical objects manifested through a special cowry bead. After a series of amusing misadventures, Tom and Feyi learn the truth about the red-shoes–wearing woman and a lesson about the protectiveness of mothers. In her debut book, Brownstone inserts a Nigerian boarding school legend about a ghostly high-heeled teacher within her own original creation about African fairies. These fairies are refreshing, given the superabundance of white-skinned fairies in children’s books. Tom’s fears are taken seriously but contrasted with Feyi’s lighthearted confidence and the charm of magic. His anxieties find deeper reassurance, though, in his mother’s realism and strength: “No madam is taking you away from me. No sir. Not on my watch.” The illustrations, too, are entertainingly lively. It’s an effective, well-balanced mix, likely to win readers for the next planned volume in this series. Discussion questions and further links are provided.