By: Umbreen Asghar
Illustrated by: Diane Lucas
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing
Publication Date: September 2009
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 2011
Zaara is a seven-year-old princess living in the land of Zahandra with her mother and father, the King and Queen. There are many wonderful things to see and do in the kingdom of Zahandra but what the young princess would really like to do is explore the forest beyond the castle walls. Unfortunately, her parents have told her she must wait until she is older. But Zaara is a very determined young lady so one day when her tutor falls asleep, she slips away and heads to the forest.
It isn’t long before Zaara meets Morgan, a giant with a very kind soul. Morgan is sad because he was forced to leave his home and live in the forest. Zaara is quite sad too when she hears this and Morgan suggests that she come along to meet his friends – other forest creatures who have also lost their homes. Zaara soon meets Elvin the Elf and Banji, who looks a bit like a fuzzy teddy bear, and Tiffany-Annabel, a beautiful fairy. The forest creatures all quickly become friends with Zaara and are enjoying themselves until a mischievous wood spirit comes along. The wood spirit casts a spell that makes Morgan and Banji argue with each other and Elvin jump around like a dog. To stop the chaos, Zaara, with the help of Tiffany-Annabel, must search out the wood spirit and get him to undo his spell.
This is a sweet tale of a young girl who loves adventure and along the way learns that friendship is a gift to be valued. All is happily resolved at the end of the tale with Zaara deciding to go home, but not before she promises to visit her new friends again. The lively, bright illustrations add a wonderful fairytale feel to the story and are not to be missed. While Zaara was rather naughty to go wandering off, she is carefully looked after by her new friends and I suspect youngsters will want this story read over and over.
Quill says: Travel along with Zaara as she explores a magical, mystical forest beyond the castle walls.