Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw, by Todd Calgi Gallicano

Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw, by Todd Calgi Gallicano (Delacorte, middle grade, Aug. 29 2017), is a fun start to a new adventure series that will have fans of magical creatures clamoring for more!

Sam London is an ordinary sort of boy who wants very much to have his own special Thing.  None of the usual things (sports, arts, music) have done it. But then, a series of dreams leads him to an encounter that will truly make him extraordinary.  On a rock outcrop in the south west, he comes face to beak with the awesome majesty of Phylassos, Lord of the Gryphons.  And Phylassos needs his help.

Long ago, the great gryphon bound all mythical creatures in an enchantment that renders them (mostly) invisible to humans, and (mostly) powerless to act directly in the human world.  He sacrificed one of his own claws to serve as a talisman to hold that magic in place.  But there are those among the non-human peoples who chaff at the restrictions imposed on them, and they are rising up against Phylossos.

Sam, to his amazement, becomes part of a strangely assorted group (including an agent from a top secret government department) racing around the world to find and secure the claw before it is captured.  He's not just extra baggage, but a useful and important member of the team.  Many of the mythical creatures are on the gryphon's side, but many others are not, and so there is magical creature mayhem and danger aplenty as the pages turn quickly.

It's not deeply subtle, and some of the good guys are just too talented for me to swallow, so I don't think I'll ever feel the need to re-read it.  But I was perfectly happy to read it this first time, and will be happy as well to read the sequel.  There are plenty of amusing bits, and it's an excellent pick for readers who like the wind in their hair as they rush with the story from one danger to the next, and of course it's especially good for devoted fans of magical creatures!  And the stakes are made high enough, both for the world and for individual characters, not all of whom make it to the end of the book, that it's a bit more than lightweight fun.

Short answer--if your kids' ears prick up when you say "gryphon," "yeti," "tanuki," or "cynecephalus" (especially the last one, because that kid is a die hard magical creature fan!) offer this book.

NB:  Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw is eligible for this year's Cybils Awards, and has not yet been nominated!  Click here to nominate this or any other fine book in a variety of categories.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

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