Written by Lee Edward Födi
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
Middle-grade fantasy for ages 8 & up
WELCOME TO ZOONE, CROSSROADS OF THE MULTIVERSE
When an enormous, winged blue tiger appears on his aunt’s sofa, Ozzie can tell he’s in for an adventure. He’s thrilled to follow Tug, who calls himself a skyger, through a secret door in the basement of his apartment building and into Zoone, the bustling station where hundreds of doors act as gateways to fantastic and wonderful worlds.
But some doors also hide dangers—and when the portal back to Earth collapses behind them, Ozzie gets more than the adventure he bargained for. With the help of a friendly blue skyger, a princess with a peculiar curse, and a bumbling wizard’s apprentice, Ozzie will have to fix his only way home . . . and maybe save the multiverse in the process.
Canadian Children's Book News
Lee Edward Födi uses colourful words to describe the characters in ways that help us imagine how they might actually look, act and sound. Ozzie constantly uses words taught to him by Aunt Temperance, while also defining them, which allows readers to expand their vocabulary while enjoying the story. The Secret of Zoone is a true page-turner full of adventure and magic. Harry Potter fans would absolutely love reading this novel. Written for upper-elementary and junior-high students, this would be a great book to use to teach about bravery, taking risks, loyalty, and friendship. It would make a great read-aloud at any time of year, specifically when teaching about character traits and expanding vocabulary. (Michelle Snowden)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Preteen Oswald Sparks (“most people call me Ozzie”) lives a clumsy, can-never-keep-his-shoes-tied, adventureless life until he finds a door to the magical Zoone Station, a neutral ground through which various creatures access the worlds of the multiverse. When he goes through it, the door back to his world is ruined, so Ozzie labors as a porter for the incoming creatures and awaits a convention of wizards, to whom he will appeal to magically fix the door and arrange his return. Along the way, he makes the acquaintance of the Station’s inhabitants: a skyger (a blue, winged tiger) named Tug; a cursed, purple-haired girl named Fidget; and Salamanda, the cute apprentice of the head wizard. Rumors of the notorious glibber king’s rogue spy have everyone on edge, and as conspiracies unfold around Ozzie, he discovers the spy (and also his own worth). A sharp sense of humor reminiscent of Rick Riordan pervades the story, and readers will enjoy the very literal gentle giant Tug. Though the story draws on typical genre tropes, it deploys them cleverly, and the novel is infused with a sense of magic and wonder. It also wraps up with a heartwarming message: the secret of Zoone is that it brings out one’s full potential, and there is inherent worth in everyone, even if they can’t keep their shoes tied.
School Library Journal
The door looks old and dull, but somehow magical to Ozzie. How could a magical door exist in the basement of the building where his prim aunt lives in apartment 2B? When the very tall lady with a hat full of birds—real birds—and a blue winged tiger named Tug appear on his couch, Ozzie can’t help but believe in the magical door that takes him with a bang to the Land of Zoone. Unfortunately, when he arrives in the station that serves as the nexus of access to all magical lands, the door to his earthly world is blasted apart. Ozzie soon finds himself with a porter’s job (he learns to not ask what is in the luggage), trying to figure out who he can trust, including a princess and an ornery wizard. Trouble is brewing for Zoone in the shape of the escaped evil wizard Crogus, and Ozzie might just hold the magical key to save it all. The world-building is detailed and rich; readers will want to travel the tracks to visit different worlds and stroll the magical market. The plot is fairly predictable, but there is enough suspense and mystery to keep most readers hooked. VERDICT: A solid fantasy for large middle grade collections.
Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA
This portal fantasy begins with a door to nowhere. One uneventful day, a pipe bursts in Apartment 2B, where Oswald "Ozzie" Sparks lives with practical, orderly Aunt Temperance while his high-powered parents travel the world. Imaginative, lonely Ozzie sets off in search of creepy Mr. Crudge, the building's caretaker, and stumbles upon a mysterious door. This door has "an energy about it," and for some reason Aunt Temperance seems to have a key to it. A few days later, Ozzie arrives home to find a blue, curly-eared, winged, tigerlike creature called a skyger waiting for him. Telling Ozzie his name is Tug, he invites the boy to Zoone, the heart of the multiverse, where the Convention of Wizardry is about to commence and the secret of this world between worlds awaits. Using Aunt Temperance's key, Ozzie enters, but the door explodes, leaving Ozzie with no way home. Though he'll have guidance from Lady Zoone, the steward, Ozzie will need to discover the secret on his own. He'll also find out he's much braver than he thinks over the course of this rather contemplative adventure. Like many a magical world before it, Zoone is full of colorful characters . . . A promising start for a new series. (Fantasy. 8-12)
Ozzie Sparks does what any kid would do when faced with a clumsy blue tiger with wings: he follows it through the magical door in his basement. Leaving behind his loving aunt and his mostly absent parents, Ozzie arrives in Zoone, the nexus of the multiverse. His excitement over the thousands of doors to bizarre worlds is tempered only by the fact that his own door back to Earth just exploded behind him. Aided by a colorful cast of friends, Ozzie must convince the wizards of Zoone to repair the door so he can return to his aunt, a tall order given their disfavor for his dying world and their preoccupation with a possibly escaped magical menace. Faced with a bigger adventure than he bargained for, Ozzie’s quest will teach him what it means to belong and to be a friend. Heartwarming and enchanting, Födi’s vocabulary-stretching portal fantasy is a great fit for readers who want something sweet and fun . . . (Eleanor Roth)
CM Magazine The Secret of Zoone is reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz with a main character who is on a quest to find home. On the way, Ozzie learns some things about himself and meets some friends who are on their own quests. Tug wants his wings fixed so he can fly and be a normal skyger, and Fidget, a princess in hiding, needs a curse removed.
A charming middle-years adventure fantasy with a positive message, The Secret of Zoone has colourful characters and worlds of possibilities. I’m looking forward to seeing what door Lee Edward Födi opens next. Highly Recommended. Reviewed by Jonine Bergen, a librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Full review)
Brimming with colorful characters, magical mayhem and endless adventure, this new tween series has a doorway for every reader— just be sure to close the door behind you!
This was a fantastic story. Something that really sent me to another world and made me enjoy being a kid again. Magic, fantasy, mythical animals, alternate realities, this has it all. I’d love to see more of this universe and can’t wait to return to Zoone once again. I’d strongly recommend picking this up, especially if you have younger readers. (Full review)