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Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

The City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein.

July 20, 2017 Comments off

city secret riversThe City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

When you are in the presence of magic never break your word and never, never, never tell a lie. Unfortunately the main character in this fantasy novel for middle school students, Hyacinth, forgets this, and gets into heaps of trouble in the sewers of London.

Hyacinth and her mother come from America to live in London and experienced travelers will know that Americans are obsessed with the bathroom. Plumbing in London is not it’s strongest point and the hot and cold water do not mix the same as in America.

There is a reason for this and it is all to do with magic. Hyacinth borrows a wrench and decides to put the plumbing right and in doing so attracts the attention of the Saltpetre men who kidnap her mother. Who would think that one drop of water could cause so much trouble?

Hyacinth and her neighbour Lady Rosylyn escape into the sewers to stop a great tragedy form happening. The rest you will have to read for yourself. But there are some characters that titillated me, they are the Toshers who live in the sewers and have names like Longface Lucky and Newfangled Troy.

The plot goes along at a rate of knots but readers of fantasy will be enchanted.

Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson.

June 19, 2017 Comments off

JorieJorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson. Imprint. Serano Press Washburn Tennessee, 2015.

This is a fantasy story for children between 8-12 years. It has dragons, a magic book, a cat that can talk and a girl hero with hair of fire and bright green eyes.

Her name is Jorie and she is not aware of her heritage until she goes to stay with her aunt Letty in a big house with a tarn or deep glacial lake within view of the house. On her first night in the house she finds an old book which tells a history that she is going to become involved with.

Like all good fantasy stories there is a fantasy land called Cabrynthius that was once ruled by Maalog Doonan through the power of three magic stones. The stones are now missing  but it has been prophesised that a Child with Hair of Fire will return to find the stones and restore the balance of power in Cabrynthius.

In the interim period a baddy called Fodomalk from the neighbouring land of Shyloxia who can turn into a dragon is seeking the stones to enhance his own power.

It is down to Jorie and her friend Rufus to find the stones and defeat the baddies.

Written in short chapters in a lofty writing style, this novel is for the gifted reader.

I read it to my granddaughters and they related well to Jorie. Great cover.

 

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts. Ten Tales from the Deep Dark Woods by Craig Phillips

April 12, 2017 Comments off

giants trollsGiants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts. Ten Tales from the Deep Dark Woods by Craig Phillips. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.

The telling of stories of myths and legends was the reason the storyteller had the best seat by the fire. Here are ten myths legends and fairy tales from nine different cultures that talk about all the mythical creatures mentioned in the title.

Most of the stories you will know already although there was one I hadn’t heard of and it is a beauty. From Sweden is The Boy Who Was Never Afraid. He goes looking for his cow that was stolen by a an old Troll. Who hasn’t? he can’t afford to be afraid and after confronting bravely some formidable opponents he gets his cow back and becomes a hero at the same time. Brilliant.

You get Irish giant Finn  McCool, Russian with Baba Yaga and Momotaro the peach boy plus others. You can’t beat that.

What makes these tales more accessible than they were before is the fact they are written in wide screen comic book illustrations that bring life to the tales. Visual readers will really get into these and so they should.

Less than 30 bucks will get you this impressive book that will appeal to reluctant readers and good readers alike. High boy appeal.

Moa by James Davidson

April 4, 2017 Comments off

moaMoa by James Davidson. Pub. Earths End, 2017.

A comic book story in 5 parts concerning two Moa Rangers Possum von Tempsky and Kiwi Pukupuku. Both ride Moas and are sort of watchdogs cum cultural police cum super heroes who wander round NZ’s bush and seashore sorting out the bad dudes including tough looking pigs, stags and lizards. All the local population are kiwis.

Their adventures fringe onto Maori legends including Hatupatu and the Birdwoman and of course Maui. There is a story of the largest Kauri tree that bushmen want to cut down. Everytime they try it is restored again as it is protected by a Mauri stone.

The last story which is not finished is a serial story concerning the theft of Maui’s magic jaw bone by Otto who wants to use it to fish for his own land and conquer the World. You will need to get the next part to find out how it ends.

Comic book illustrations with speech bubbles from the characters. Lots of action and tongue in cheek humour without offending the cultural aspects.

Another example of the changing way Maori legends and culture are proceeding to appeal to modern kids. I like the movement.

 

Snails, Spells & Snazzlepops by Robyn Cooper

October 19, 2016 Comments off

snailsSnails, Spells & Snazzlepops by Robyn Cooper. Pub. Makaro Press, 2016.

A first novel for primary and intermediate children told with much enthusiasm and gusto.

It combines the silliness that Paul Jennings and Andy Griffiths brought to junior fiction and combines it with some fantasy and real life issues like adjusting to your mothers boyfriend and bullying.

Ten year old charlie wants to be rich and decides becoming a famous chef is the way to go. He inveigles his mate Matt and his sister Millie to assist him in capturing, preparing and cooking snails for his mother and her teacher boyfriend Mr Swinkburn Doug. Never got used to that name.

In the process of finding a recipe for snails online Charlie finds a site Sails, Spells and Snazzlepops. He sees spells to make you shorter and taller and a cure for bullying amongst others. Will this help to cure the bully Ivan?

None of this will make Charlie rich but perhaps the Snazzlepop section will change his luck.Read it and find out.

Easy to read with short chapters and plenty to keep the reader in the book.

Johnny Danger Bk 3. Spyborg by Peter Millett

September 9, 2016 Comments off

spy-borgJohnny Danger Bk 3. Spyborg by Peter Millett. Pub. Puffin Books, 2016.

Yes book three is out at last and it is full of the same intelligent silliness that made the other two books so popular. Perennial villain Dr Disastrous is joined by new villain Yuri Boom-Boom-ovic who has invented a cyborg that can be replicated to look and act like anybody.

The two villains retreat to Happy World island formerly known as Ikki Ikki Bunga, Dr Disastrous’s hideaway, and plot to get Johnny Danger and conquer the World at the same time. Mwahahaha.

Not only that Johnny Dangers older brother Evil Ian has gone to the darkside and  Penelope Pounds and Johnny’s father are acting very strangely, could they be one of Boo Boom’s new cyborgs or Yuri-nators as he calls them?

Read this action packed spoof on James Bond and have fun. Lots of action and toilet humour, there is even a lego car. Adults will love it too as Peter Millett spoofs film classics Dirty Harry, the Terminator and others.

The best compliment I can give this novel is to tell you I read it in one sitting. It made me smile on a miserable day. It will do that to you too.

For middle school and older students who have furtive imaginations. All the Johnny Danger books are at this link

https://bobsbooksnz.wordpress.com/?s=johnny+danger

Mechanica. A beginner’s field guide by Lance Balchin.

August 10, 2016 Comments off

mechanicaMechanica. A beginner’s field guide by Lance Balchin. Pub.The Five Mile Press, 2016.

Wow! What an impressive picture book this is. After reading it twice my thoughts were “I want more, I don’t know enough” and I expect there is more because the title says it is a beginner’s guide and reference is made to The Mechanica Chronicles. I hope so!!

In a nutshell humans have destroyed the environment of the Earth so that all wild life  of the planet have become extinct. To make up for it they create robotic Mechapets with Chen Sue a major player with his revolutionary Series 3 Wing Brace design.

This design effectively sets the mechapets free and they evolve into Mechanica who threaten humans and caused them to retreat into highly defended bolt holes. One of these is the South Sea island of Saraswati on which resides Liberty Crisp, a student of the genius Reginald P. Prescott.

When Saraswati is sacked by the Mechanica, Liberty sets sail on the HMS Beagle and does a Darwinesque trip around the World to see how the Mechanica have evolved.

The undoubted highlight of this book are the illustrations of the Mechanica. The detailed diagrams are complete with data such as Power Source, Speed, Origin, Size and specifics about their adaptations to their environment. There is the King dragonfly, the Powered Spider, the Articulated Snake and my favourite the Fast Parrot.

Absolutely Superb and with appeal for every age group. Not only that, Lance Balchin leaves the reader with a glimmer of hope.