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Matthew Reynolds
A World on the Island's Edge
Twelve-year old Andi Johnston knows all about keeping secrets from the inhabitants of her island home. She's been hiding the truth about her grandmother's dementia for nearly two years in an effort to keep her family together. After finding a young golden dolphin hidden in a cavern under her cliffside home, Andi knows she is in over her head. The bond between Andi and the dolphin Lux is instantaneous and supernatural. With his strange powers, Lux is able to heal Andi's grandmother-for a time. Together with her genius twin brother, Artie, and best friend, Jubal, Andi tries to keep Lux safe from the world. Even if she can, what will happen to her family? The appearance of an old and mysterious ship in the bay across Andi's home does nothing to alleviate her fears, nor does the discovery of a monstrous creature trying to use Lux as a means of breaking out of its prison. With her options running out, Andi risks everything in an act of faith that will change their lives forever.
Reynolds introduces readers to twelve-year-old Andi Johnston in the first of the Golden Dolphin series. Andi and her twin brother, Artie, live with their grandmother in the pleasant seaside town of Grey Cove, but when their grandmother grows ill, and their future living situation uncertain, Andi vows to do whatever it takes to keep her small family together for as long as possible. Enter Lux, a magical golden dolphin able to communicate telepathically with Andi. Their friendship is instantaneous, and with Lux at her side, Andi’s pulled into a fantastical mystery that transcends space and time—and may just be the ticket to saving her family.

Fantasy fans will appreciate the whimsical nature of this middle-grade quest, though some events could use more buildup. Reynolds opens with an earthquake that kickstarts Andi’s mystical connection with Lux, a friendship that, despite its abrupt beginning, forms the basis of Andi’s endeavor to save her family. Andi’s loyalty to her brother and grandmother are endearing, particularly for such a young character, and Lux—who loses his mother in the first pages, a tragedy he has in common with Andi, whose mother has disappeared—provides her with the support she craves: when Andi dives into the ocean to meet Lux, her thoughts echo “She was not alone. She would never be alone again.”

Readers should come prepared for mature content, as themes of child physical abuse and neglect are woven throughout, but the heart of this adventure is a warm story of family, loss, and resilience. Lux’s protectiveness fills an aching need for Andi, who wants nothing more than a safe place for her family to exist, and those readers charmed by their imaginative friendship, and the book’s winning combination of magic and science fiction, will be pleased with the suspense-laden ending that promises more adventures to come.

Takeaway: A fantasy-filled tale of friendship that transcends time and space.

Great for fans of: Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A