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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Mr. Barsins' Toy Emporium is a children's fantasy adventure novel written by Lois Wickstrom. Lily is a twelve-year-old girl who enters Mr. Barsins' toy store in the hopes of reuniting with her friends Nappy and Cordy. In the same store, seven-year-old Jack wants to befriend a mermaid. While eight-year-old Nick becomes enamored with a mischievous gnome named Yuri, Audrey wants to prove her prowess as a brave knight by slaying a dragon. But slaying dragons kills one's imagination, leading Audrey to befriend one instead named Sylvester. When Lily sees her long-lost mother imprisoned in one of Mr. Barsins' cages, the children discover a larger conspiracy where Mr. Barsins wanted to turn them into imaginaries. They must now come together to defeat Mr. Barsins while preserving their imaginations.
Author Lois Wickstrom's magical adventure odyssey is full of heart. It conveys a sense of wonder and awe that encourages readers to broaden their imaginations and sets fire to their sense of curiosity. Mr. Barsins' Toy Emporium is a delight to read from start to finish. The author deftly captures the sense of wonder and unrestrained joy found in children and expertly showcases their imaginations. All the characters feel colorful and vivid, with distinct personalities that make them pop out of the pages. There are some poignant lessons such as the importance of family, friends, unity, and the wonders of having a broad imagination underlying the narrative. If you're a fan of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you're going to love Mr. Barsins' Toy Emporium.