The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
Nine years before, the last time the magical portal under Platform 13 was opened, the prince of the magical Island was taken to England by his three nurses. It was only supposed to be a short trip to get some fish and chips, but while they were there the prince was stolen by Mrs. Trottle. The entire magical Island had to wait nine years for the portal to open again to find the prince. The King and Queen assign the wizard, Cor, a fey named Gurkie, and Hans the giant, to go rescue the prince. A young hag named Odge is allowed to go as well after she begs the Queen. When the group finds the Trottles, they are shocked to see Raymond Trottle. He's nothing like what they expected of the prince -- he's an overweight, selfish, demanding, spoiled brat. Nevertheless, they were given the task to bring him back to the Island, so that's what they set out to do. Along the way, they meet a young boy, Ben, the grandson of Nanny Brown, who works for the Trottles. The group immediately take a liking to Ben and wish he could be the prince. With the help of Ben and some of the magical creatures still in England, the group designs and elaborate plan to kidnap Raymond and bring him back. Only now, Raymond is being protected by two bodyguards. Will they be successful and return with the prince to the Island before the portal closes?
I rather enjoyed The Secret of Platform 13. It's definitely more for the younger set of middle grades, for it's a sweet fantasy. Yes, it's predictable, but I really didn't care that I knew what was going to happen. I fell in love with the characters and couldn't wait to read more about them. From the description of the foul-smelling harpies to Odge's not-quite-a-hag-yet faults, the humor is over-the-top in a Roald Dahl way, without his meanness. I'd say fans of Dahl, Narnia, even Harry Potter will enjoy reading Ibbotson's The Secret of Platform 13. B rating.