Paradise Sands

Written and Illustrated by Levi Pinfold

When a girl and her older brothers stumble on a beautiful, white hotel in the desert, they stop to pick flowers for their mother, who they are on their way to visit. Little do they know they have entered the enchanted but ghostly domain of the Teller, a ruler in the image of a fierce lion. The girl’s brothers all choose to drink the water they find, which binds them to the Teller as dolphins in his pool. In order to set her brothers free, the girl must bargain for their lives by enduring three days with no food or water. As tempting as it is to eat and drink at the feast laid before her, the girl only takes water for the flowers they picked for their mother. At the end of the three days, they are all set free, with the caveat that the Teller will exact his price for the flower water at some time in the future when the girl is grown. When they reach their mother (in some kind of hospital), they hand her the flowers. She asks if they are from Teller’s Hollow, and as the girl nods, they look at each other and both understand what this means.

To say this book is creepy is an understatement! The spareness feels like abandonment and uncertainty. The illustrations have a realism to them that feels like both a photograph and otherworldly. The color palette is really muted, like there is a sepia filter on everything. It’s definitely text heavy and will appeal more to older kids, but the pictures are really unique and will probably attract younger readers too. With it’s Narnia vibes, this book would be excellent when talking about modern fairy tales.

Reviewed by Andrea LeBaron, Librarian, Upland Terrace Elementary
Review shared in January 2023
Rating: ★★★★✩ (4 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 3-8

Paradise Sands
Written and Illustrated by Levi Pinfold
Candlewick Studio, an imprint of Candlewick Press
40 pages
Release Date: November 8, 2022
ISBN: 9781536212822
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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