Tipani Walker's nightmare is real.
In fact, The Spoon Man has already trapped her mother among his tarry tentacles, and if he has his way, Tipani will be next. But what the foul phantasm doesn't know is that his latest prey is no ordinary girl. Infused with the ancient magic of a Weaver, Tipani has the power to move through the ever-shifting twin knots of Day and Night, the only place where nightmares can truly be defeated…
…and where they have the most power.
Luckily for Tipani, she won’t have to fight alone. Along the way, a knot-obsessed faerie, the girliest girl in the world, and a doll named Chicken, will each add their own force to the fight. But will it all be enough to conquer Tipani’s nightmare before her mother’s curse becomes her own?
Enchantment abounds in this meaningful story, and Crichton, who writes prose of hypnotic power, sprinkles in some fascinating physics as well. When Tipani stumbles into a store with a curious owner named Piper Weaversage, a First Degree Dream Fae, she learns that not only are other dimensions real, but she is a secret Weaver–a special human charged with protecting the tapestry that forms the universe. Tipani launches headfirst into her new abilities, including time and space travel, in hopes that they will help restore her family, but the journey is more dangerous than she ever imagined. While she fights to preserve the world, she is pulled into a surreal nightmare where she is forced to face her own inner demons along the way.
Rich with metaphor and double meaning, this novel is weightier than it might seem–though some readers may feel lost during accounts of Tipani’s lucid dreams. But the lesson on facing fears and persevering at all costs is crystal clear, and Crichton proves adept at interlacing painful reality with ethereal tones. Any readers who have felt powerless to change traumatic situations will find an escape here.
Takeaway: This powerful adventure of childhood self-discovery blends physics, fantasy, and the fabric of existence.
Great for fans of: Dani Resh’s Compass to Vinland, Michelle Madow’s Elementals Academy.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B
Ayoung girl learns to unknot her dreams and memories in this middle-grade fantasy from Crichton.
At 12 years old, Tipani Walker already leads a difficult life. For the last two years, her father has been in a coma. She and her mother have had to move to Felony Flats, and at school, Tipani is the prime target of alpha bully Chris Prophet. Worst of all, Tipani’s mother has become an unfit parent. Addicted to the “medicines” of an unseen visitor whom Tipani has dubbed Spoon Man, Mom has stopped functioning. Amid such desolation, Tipani takes comfort in reading and tying complex rope knots. When she meets a bearded faerie named Piper, the tween learns that she herself is a Weaver. Once trained, she will be able to manipulate the content of her memories and dreams. But that training immediately goes astray. Tipani’s nightmares become entangled with those of a girl named Cassie. Has Tipani at last made a new friend, or is her life about to spiral further downward? Crichton’s assured prose guides us through her cast’s intriguing circumstances; a sympathetic lead, Tipani is a capable (but sometimes hesitant) hero. Crichton breaks the book into chapters headed by lines from Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream.” The protagonist’s nightmare quest reflects Poe’s notion of nested ambiguity—and while her determination in this strange, layered world is never in doubt, there is a sense that she flounders toward and happens upon resolutions rather than directly causing them. Also, revealing a main character’s transgender identity has potential to add interest and complexity but, alas, the plot twist lacks nuance. Each chapter commences with a half-page grayscale illustration, evincing either the bleakness that Tipani feels or a comic whimsy that doesn’t quite come through in the text.
Darkly imaginative with an appealing but unsure star.
Tipani Walker and the Nightmare Knot
Written by Jessica Crichton
Ages 8-12 | 164 Pages
Publisher: Amazon KDP | ISBN-13: 9798418930811
What to Expect: Adventure, nightmares, poverty, drug addiction, gender, courage.
For most people, nightmares are something you get to walk away from in the morning when the sun comes up. Tipani isn’t so lucky; her days are as bad as her nights.
Daytime is when she has to face Chris, the bully who torments her for being poor; the teachers who see her as the “bad kid”; the mother who neglects her; and the father who is lost in a coma. Nighttime is when the nightmares come. And through both night and day, the Spoon Man with his poisonous medicine stalks both Tipani and her mother, threatening to take away the little she has left. Luckily, Tipani isn’t like most people. She’s a Weaver, and that means she has the power to conquer her nightmares—if she can just find the courage to use it.
Gritty and hard-hitting, Tipani Walker and the Nightmare Knot is a well-written and sensitive exploration of the very real challenges that many children face, from neglect and poverty to violence at the hands of drug dealers and criminals. Through the eyes of the sensitive, relatable protagonist, readers get a first-hand account of just how easy it is for such children to be let down by parents, school systems, authority figures, and peers. At the same time, the novel is a gripping adventure filled with imaginative creatures and fantastic worlds that will keep any reader on the edge of their seat.
Tipani Walker and the Nightmare Knot is one of the best middle-grade adventures out there—don’t pick it up unless you have nothing else to do for the day.
Dr. Jen Harrison, The Children's Book Review