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Search tags: Children\'s-Fiction
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review 2016-08-04 18:02
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling,John Kerr Tiffany,Jack Thorne

So much love! OK, first of all, it’s in script format. No doubt that disappointed some--it's not a new novel. But for me it was a plus. For one, none of the stylistic tics that have bugged me in Rowling were present: No jarring book-saids or adjective abuse. It’s not bloated in plot; there aren’t any plot holes that I can see. One of my friends said she did roll her eyes at one aspect, but even with her that was a minor complaint.

There's another way I find this a past due recognition. The way Gryffindor dominated the other books and all the Slytherins were depicted negatively really bugged me. One quarter of the kids are cool and another quarter evil little tyrants or their followers in the making? Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff still don't get their due but at least there are heroic Slytherins in this one and some Gryffindors who... well, let's say make some mistakes. There's one line of McGongall's I've been waiting for *someone* to say to Harry Potter for years: "The lesson even your father sometimes failed to heed is that bravery doesn’t forgive stupidity."

A lot of the lines are witty, out and out funny and/or wise. There are some old favorite characters that unexpectedly show up--a highlight of the book for me. And I love, love Scorpius beyond measure. In fact, in the immediate aftermath of reading this I'd name this my favorite Harry Potter story. No doubt partly because it's been a long time--I hadn't realized how much I'd missed them all.

 

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text 2016-04-07 18:49
Exciting But Ramshackle Fantasy
The Wolf in the Attic - Paul Kearney

Set in the nineteen twenties, this is a dark fantasy about twelve year old Anna, a refugee from the Greco-Turkish war who ends up living in Oxford with her bankrupt father where she is briefly befriended by C S Lewis and J R Tolkien.

 

When her father is murdered without warning, she finds herself drawn into a battle between ancient forces who compete to win her allegiance. It seems that Anna is heir to a legacy stretching back to the world of Homer and beyond, and capable of powers she is only dimly aware of.

 

Often beautifully written and always wonderfully evocative, The Wolf In The Attic, nevertheless fails to live up to its promise. Nothing is explained properly, the overarching mythos is a jumble and the plot feels as though the writer has made it up as he went along. What are Lewis and Tolkien doing in the book, for example? They appear and are carefully drawn but then they just seem to get forgotten.

 

Kearney is a talented writer and the possessor of a vivid and poetic imagination. The Wolf In The Attic  is an attractive and exciting read but lack of attention to structure makes it ultimately slightly unsatisfying.

                                                                                                                          

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text 2016-02-16 12:06
A New Voice In Children's Fiction
Time Travelling with a Hamster - Ross Welford

This book has a really cracking opening paragraph:

 

My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve. The first time had nothing to do with me. The second time definitely did, but I would never even have been there if it hadn't been for his 'time machine'..."

 

And it pretty much carries on in the same vein.

 

It's the story of Al Chaudhury, a twelve year old mixed-race boy from North East England, who discovers his dead father's time machine (a laptop and a zinc bathtub) and sets off on a mission to prevent his dad having the accident that led to his death. Only, altering time is not a simple matter. You make a small mistake and everything goes haywire. Al makes more than one mistake.

 

Very funny and hugely readable with a likeable central character and a plot full of  twists and turns Time Travelling With A Hamster is a terrific piece of storytelling and a very impressive debut. And it's great to see a mixed-race Indian heritage boy at the centre of the action. I loved this.

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review 2015-07-28 22:46
Forgotten Things
Forgotten Things - Stephen Mullaney-Westwood

Forgotten Things is the debut full-length novel by author Stephen Mullaney-Westwood. It is a beautiful story woven between the reality that we all know and that inhabited by the creatures of lore that so many of us dismiss. It is a coming-of-age story that centers around Adam and his friends Martin and Josh. Adam has just moved to the Cornwall countryside with his parents after his grandfather, whom he barely knows, has had a stroke. From the very beginning, it is clear that there are issues betwen her mother and his grandfather, issues that no one seems to want to explain to him. There is an instant connection between himself and his grandfather, one that his mother is not truly happy about.

 

This is a story with many themes... guilt, friendship, loss, faith in the unseen, trust, and love. One of my favorite parts of the novel is the relationship between Adam and his grandfather. Like his grandfather, Adam is open to the things that flit about the corners of our vision, the things that most adults have cast aside as fanciful notions of childhood. These are the things that both fascinate him and scare him, the shadows that move in the night, the shadows that move through the trees. The story is embued with old magic, woven through the lives of the characters in so many unexpected ways.

 

I apprecciate the way the ideas and concepts of old magic are presented in this novel. It isn't the more modern representations of magic that I am used to in young adult and children's fiction, but magic that is older, more nature-based... the magic of faery lore. It doesn't show Disneyfied faeries, but those that are mischievious, even mean. It celebrates the relationships between humantiy and nature and how it can be both bad and good. It is a beautiful story with lessons to be learned.

 

My Recommendation

 

This is an almost lyrical tale with both light and dark moments that presents the foundation of magic as it should be... with the good and the bad.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=11229
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review 2015-03-03 17:14
YA fiction for Adults
Zits: Chillax - Jerry Scott,Jim Borgman

I can't now remember why I decided to read this book, but I suspect it was because it's a combination of regular prose and cartoon panels--a sort of quasi graphic novel, then, but with the cartoon elements interspersed with a lot of just plain prose. This is a kind of fictional storytelling I can't quite get my mind around: why tell parts on the story in words and images and the rest just in words? And is there a difference in the effect of the differently presented sections, then?

 

Anyway, in order to read this, I had to know more about Zits, the daily comic strip which these authors produce and which features the same cast of characters. So I read a collection of Zits strips: Triple Shot Double Pump No Whip Zits. I found it sometimes clever and often amusing, but incredibly repetitive: based on a very limited range of jokes and clichés about teenagers and repeating those same jokes and clichés forever. Maybe it's better when you just get one a day?

 

After reading the strip, I then read this novel, which more or less just repeats the same old jokes and clichés in the context of a somewhat longer story arc.  But what became most apparent as I read the novel was how very much the target audience for all this is adults, not actual teens like the main character. That becomes apparent mainly because readers are again and again being asked to know more and better than this ingenuous self-involved teen, and to laugh at all the ways in which he represents typical cliched teenhood. Confirming all sorts of easy and obvious stereotypes about teens doesn't necessarily close the book to an audience of teens, but inviting a kind of laughter that basically implies that all teens are silly and impossible and aren't adults ever so much sane and wise?  That's not likely to appeal to teen readers. I hope. I hope not because the attitude being expressed is a sort of complacency: Golly, aren't teens ever so silly inevitably and always, and so thoughtless, and so incapable of being anything else.  There's a kind of love for all this inadequacy and irresponsibility mixed in with the feeling superior to it, a kind of supposed dismay about teenagers that translates into a sense that being a clueless teenager is way better than having the responsibilities and worries of adulthood. As if. Anyway, i found it all very annoying. Not recommended. Maybe I'm too young for it?

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