Curious World of Dandy-Lion (paperback)

Lorraine Hawley

Written by Lorraine Hawley
Illustrated by Jocie Salveson

Sweet. Empowering. Fantastical

A remarkable sensitive girl struggles to make friends in an impossible fifth-grade world filled with magical creatures only she can see.

In a small Indiana town, Meredith experiences whimsical within the mundane. Fireflies dance inside lampposts, flowers wave in greeting, and an opinionated beetle named Floss wreaks havoc on her life. No one believes her—not even her parents—but more pressing problems are at hand.

The widower neighbor, who is like her grandparent, won’t leave his home. He has been jinxed, Meredith believes, by Billy, aka her bully. Desperate to free Mr. Dally, Meredith devises a plan. What can go wrong?

With Floss sabotaging her? Everything. The task may be more than she can handle alone.

Then Meredith meets Jax, a curious boy who claims to see her extraordinary friends. He agrees to help. Against her better judgment, Meredith leads him inside her fantastical world only to discover Jax has plans of his own.

Ages 9-12, 6″x9″


  1. Emma Megan for Readers’ Favorite

    Curious World of Dandy-Lion by Lorraine Hawley is a children’s adventure book about a gifted and curious fifth-grade girl called Meredith Smart. Meredith has a wild imagination, and she’s friendless. Well, she has friends, but imaginary ones. In her journal, she wrote down her most important mission. She has to make a real friend, but it must be a girl, to help her break the jinx that keeps Mr. Dally, her neighbor, trapped in his house since his wife died. Meredith learns that she needs Billy, her bully from school, to break the jinx. However, she meets Jax, a boy that wants to help her. Jax soon teaches Meredith that friends are hard to keep, and he makes her doubt him. But is Jax real or a figment of her imagination? Will he and Billy help her save Mr. Dally?

    Curious World of Dandy-Lion by Lorraine Hawley is a delightful, enjoyable, and touching story. It contains lovely illustrations that depict scenes from a little girl’s amazing imaginary world. I absolutely love this sweet, gorgeously written tale and how it honors the importance of showing kindness and compassion to sad and lonely people around us. It teaches children to believe in themselves, embrace their uniqueness, and that friends are for fun, adventure, and helping others. Curious World of Dandy-Lion by Lorraine Hawley nicely proves that even the smallest creatures, magical or real, can help others in a big way. Kids with a wild imagination, imaginary friends, or who have trouble making friends in school will resonate with this book.

  2. Reviewed by Sophie Applin for Pine Reads Review

    The Midwest may seem like the most ordinary place to be, yet, for a young girl named Meredith, it’s anything but. Meredith’s life is full of magic, evidenced by her (not so) friendly beetle-friend, Floss. But when Meredith begins to worry that her elderly neighbor, Mr. Dally, has been tricked by her school bully, she decides to do everything in her power to save him. With the help of Floss, her magical surroundings, and a mysterious boy, can Meredith save Mr. Dally and make her world right again?

    I did not grow up in the Midwest, but I had a childhood similar to Meredith; that is, I was convinced that everything around me was full of magic and whimsy. Reading about Meredith’s world was like stepping back into my parents’ backyard, with talking flowers, and bees that seemed to whisper secrets in my ear. This story is filled with a sense of wonder. But it’s not all picture perfect.

    Meredith faces some real challenges when she embarks on her mission to save Mr. Dally. He was such a sweet character, and I loved the way that Meredith helped to get him out of his shell. Her relationship with her elderly neighbor and her quest to stand up to her school bully, Billy, made me root for her from page one.

    I enjoyed Meredith and Mr. Dally immensely, but my favorite character has to be Floss the beetle. Brought to life by illustrator Jocie Salveson, Floss completely stole my heart. The character and accompanying illustrations added a wonderful element of humor and life to the story. I am a firm believer that every child needs an animal companion, and Floss certainly fit the bill for this book! Floss was created beautifully by Salveson, but he was not the only image in the story. With a collection of art in black and white, Salveson perfectly captured the magical feeling of being a young child. Her art was a lovely addition to Meredith’s story, and it helped to pull me into the magic of it all. This is a book I wish I could’ve had as a child, but I’ll have to settle for the wonderful memories it brings. Meredith taught me that wandering through the garden and listening to the nature around you is not only for children—even adults can find a little bit of magic in their lives.

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