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Book Review

This fantasy story by Tony Abbott is the first in " The Secrets of Droon" series published by Scholastic Inc.

The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet is written for kids ages 7 to 9. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Eric Hinkle's mom insists he start cleaning the basement before he goes out to play soccer. Work soon becomes play when his best friends, Neal and Julie, come over and offer to help. Neal tosses a soccer ball to Eric, but it bounces off a box and then Neal's nose before it hits a small cupboard under the stairs. Julie goes to fetch the ball, but when the door shuts behind her, the boys hear screams. After they get the door open, Julie claims that a magical staircase appeared and the ball bounced down it. Neal teases that the ball must have hit her head, but after she closes the door again, the floor shimmers and a staircase appears. The three friends follow the path down and find themselves in a strange new world. They do not receive a warm welcome.

Giant lizards with red-skinned riders attack the children with flaming arrows. The staircase disappears beneath them, and they are separated as they fall to the ground. A young girl named Keeah helps Eric by sprinkling magic powder on the ankle he sprains in the fall. His injury is instantly healed. She tells him that the flying lizards are named Groggles and that their riders are Ninns. They are the servants of the evil Lord Sparr. She wants him to give a message to her father, King Zello: Lord Sparr wants to take over the land of Droon. If he can find a man named Galen, who lives in a tower, Galen can get the message to the king. Keeah will help Eric return home if the king gets the message. Keeah gives Eric a note, then flees into the forest. The Ninns follow her.

Eric is reunited with his friends. They hide in the trees and get their first glimpse of Lord Sparr. He looks human but has two purple fins that stick out of his head. He demands that Keeah and those that helped her be found. The three children run away until an invisible wall stops Neal.

A huge petrified tree appears in front of them, followed by a giant spider with a human face and bright red hair. The beast's name is Max, and he leads them up the tower to Galen, a wizard. Galen reads Keeah's message, then disappears to tell King Zello that Lord Sparr is attacking one of their cities. He reappears moments later and asks the children how they came to be in Droon. They are surprised to learn that Galen knows about the staircase. He sealed the passage years ago, fearing Lord Sparr would try to take over their world as well as Droon. Because Galen's powers have been growing weaker with age, the staircase occasionally becomes visible.

The children learn that Sparr has created three magical tools that give him extraordinary powers. Galen changed their shapes and cast them to the winds so Sparr wouldn't be able to find them. No one knows what they look like, but Sparr believes Keeah has one of them.

Galen and the children look through a magic mirror and see that Keeah has been captured by the Ninns. Galen, Max and the children vow to save her. But when the mirror shows Galen that the Ninns are attacking a different city, he must leave the children to rescue Keeah on their own. With the help of Max and a giant llama-like animal named Leep, Eric and his friends set off to rescue the princess. Galen warns them that should they be able to return home, they must tell no one of Droon's existence. Also, they must be careful not to leave anything behind or else something from Droon will appear in their world.

When they arrive at the city of Plud, where Sparr is keeping Keeah, they wonder how they will get through the locked gates. The noise from Sparr's car frightens Leep. He runs away, and Max follows close behind. The children sneak into Plod behind Sparr's car and overhear that Keeah is being kept in the fortress's tower. When Ninns approach, Eric dons an invisibility cloak that Galen gave him, while his friends hide. Once the Ninns leave, the children find the princess. Before they can escape, Sparr arrives. He sees a pouch on Keeah's wrist and takes it. She protests that her mother, whom she believes Sparr killed, gave it to her. Sparr holds the pouch over his head and says a magical chant. Keeah's pouch turns into a gemstone known as The Red Eye of Dawn. It is one of the powers Lord Sparr created so that he could rule Droon.

Sparr then turns his attention to Eric and his friends, claiming to recognize them. His magical stairs appear in Eric's basement. When the children question how he knows this, Sparr reveals their lost soccer ball. Through the ball, he was able to learn much about the children and their world. Max arrives and helps them escape.

Soon, they find themselves trapped in a storage room filled with rugs. Keeah recognizes them as magic carpets and finds one large enough to fit everyone. Max climbs out the window to find Leep while the children and Keeah fly out of the tower on the carpet. A white falcon that has been following the children swoops out of the clouds to attack Sparr and aid their escape.

Keeah helps the children find the staircase home. She tells them she will see them again if the magic still works. Eric, Julie and Neal climb up to Eric's basement. They are surprised to learn they've only been gone 10 minutes. They discover their soccer ball floating in the basement with a message written on it. Keeah wrote that their dreams would let them know when they can return to Droon. The soccer ball changes into a globe of Droon before turning back into a ball. The children are excited at the prospect of returning to this magical world someday.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Droon is a mystical world with many strange creatures. Lord Sparr is an evil sorcerer who uses his magic to harm people and gain power. Galen is a wizard who uses his magic to help the people of Droon.

Authority Roles

Eric's mother insists that Eric work for at least two hours cleaning the basement before he can play soccer with his friends. Galen, the only friendly adult the children meet in Droon, allows them to go into dangerous situations in order to rescue Princess Keeah.


Eric and his friends encounter many dangers, such as being shot at with flaming arrows by the Ninns. Although their dangerous encounters have elements of danger, the writing is not graphic in nature.



Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • What are Eric's chores?
  • Why might his mother insist that he clean the basement before he can play with his friends?
  • What chores do you have to do?
  • How do your chores help your family?

  • Who offers to help Eric clean the basement?

  • Have you ever helped a friend with chores?
  • What did you do?
  • Why is it more fun to clean when you do it with a friend?

  • If you found magical stairs leading to another world, would you take them? Why or why not?

  • If you could choose one person to go with you, who would it be?
  • What would you want to be in this new world?

  • How does Keeah write her message to Galen to keep its meaning secret?

  • Whom doesn't she want to read the message?
  • Did her code work?
  • Have you ever made a code?
  • How did it work?

  • The children are told not to tell anyone about Droon.

  • Why might that be?
  • Have you ever kept a secret for someone?
  • Why is it hard to keep a secret?

Additional Comments/Notes

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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