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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Once Upon a Rhine by RA Anderson is the first book in the Cody the Cockatrice series. Over the last fifty years, Cody has watched children's belief in him decrease. Once upon a time, he had an important job as a guardian that helped children. Now, he's no longer a guardian, which has left him invisible and wandering the streets of Switzerland. Everything changes once young Brody and his family arrive in Switzerland with the Once Upon the Rhine cruise. Brody feels like an outsider now that he's banned from athletics, thanks to his diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. But when Brody sees Cody during a lecture about cockatrices during a tour with a Swiss Chocolatier, a new opportunity opens for both of them. This is great news but comes with many questions that leave Cody wondering if he will need to leave the comfort of Basel to go to America with Brody.
RA Anderson delivers a unique and delightful tale that introduces children to the mythology of a cockatrice through a touching tale about friendship and new beginnings. Brody and Cody are both outsiders; Brody with his heart condition and being a middle child while Cody is literally on the outside of society now that he's invisible. Cody is facing despair in his life as he went from being an important guardian to being entirely invisible to everyone around him due to the lack of belief in him. The two characters are at an impasse in their lives, seeking a new purpose and a new path that leads them to an accidental meeting. A family vacation turns into an epic adventure in Switzerland with a cockatrice, interwoven with scenes of their tour which sees them at museums and around town with little lessons about Van Gogh exhibits and more included. Once Upon a Rhine is a charming and delightful adventure in Switzerland that brings to life a tale of friendship, adventure, and happiness.