Keeper of the Phoenix by Aleesah Darlison

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Ill. by Nicole Onslow. Ash Rover Book 1. Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922179029.
(Age: 7-10) Highly recommended. Themes: Adventure, Fantasy, Quest. All the elements of a fantasy-quest junior novel - mythical creatures, magic and mayhem, an evil wizard and friends on a mission to save their village, engage the reader in Aleesah Davidson's new action-packed adventure series.
When young Ash Rover falls asleep minding his cows, a mysterious warm rock hits him on the head. He leaves the cows and rushes home to tell his unimpressed mother, she admonishes him and throws the strange object out. Of course the rock turns out to be a phoenix egg and when it hatches Ash becomes the keeper, protector and food supplier for the hungry bird. All the men of the village have left to fight the enemy at the border and Lady Belgrave rules the village. When she summons Ash and his friends Rhyll and Taine to the manor to show her the magical bird, things change dramatically.
With the village trapped under the evil wizard Zadoc's spell, the three adventurers, Ash's faithful dog trip and Gwaam the talking phoenix need to confront their fears, work together and break the wizard's spell within seven days. Ash knows he has to do the right thing even though he's not always clever or brave. Rhyll is a great foil for Ash, feisty and opinionated.
Along the way they confront a fierce mother dragon, colourful unicorns, fairies, trogs, need to find food and shelter and confront the evil wizard Zadoc.
This is an exciting new novel with two more Ash Rover books to come. This would be a great class read aloud as an introduction to narrative, fantasy and character development.
Highly recommended for readers from 7-10. Classroom ideas are available.
Rhyllis Bignell