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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Dotty and the Calendar House Key is the first book in The Dotty Series by Emma Warner-Reed. Rushing home as fast as she can, nine-year-old Dotty Parsons and her best friend, Sylvia, are eager to watch the fireworks display in Dotty’s back yard. Tragedy strikes, however, when both of Dotty’s parents and her two dogs, Chip and Pin, perish after the house becomes an inferno when a stray firework makes its way inside. Dotty is sent to live with her Great-Uncle Winchester in Yorkshire, who lives inside a mansion with 365 windows, known as the Calendar House, which was also Dotty’s mother’s childhood home. The cook and nursemaid, Mrs. Gobbins, acts as a mother figure in Dotty’s life, while her uncle’s secretary, Mr. Strake, strikes fear into Dotty every time she sets eyes on him. Dotty often hears noises coming from the chimneys of the mansion. At first, she believes it to be birds making their nests, but what Dotty finds is far more incredible and exciting than she could ever have imagined. Dotty’s only task now is to find the location of a special trinket – the Calendar House Key – not realizing that the secret of its magic lies within her.
What started out as a tragedy soon turns into a magical adventure which warms the heart. Emma Warner-Reed’s imagination is very impressive, with Dotty and the Calendar House Key kicking off a series which I am determined to add to my home library. Every single emotion is stimulated in this book, be it sorrow, joy, fear, relief, excitement, or wariness of the unknown. Dotty’s mother’s playroom is filled with its own adventures and reveals a few mysteries which Dotty is determined to solve. The fact that her mother’s childhood toys make Dotty feel closer to her mother is both sad and reassuring. Dotty’s bond with her Great-Uncle Winchester is unique and rather fun, as is her connection with his dog, which seems constantly out of favor with Mrs. Gobbins for trying to eat everything in her kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed Dotty and the Calendar House Key and recommend it to young readers who enjoy adventure, humor, mystery, and unexpected friendships in this magical fantasy.