Tag Archives: Childrens Books

The Inside Story, Michael Buckley

The Inside Story, Michael BuckleyThe Inside Story by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2010
Pages: 266 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #8

Rating: 3/53/53/53/53/5

 

Sabrina and Daphne Grimm have studied hundreds of fairy tales as part of the family business, but they never thought they’d actually be in one. And yet that’s exactly what happens when they follow the diabolical Master into the Book of Everafter, a mysterious tome in which copies of the world’s fairy tales live out their stories over and over again. The Grimm’s must track down the Master while avoiding the book’s tyrannical Editor, who is devoted to keeping the stories on track. In the Book of Everafter, stories can be rewritten, which is why Sabrina and Daphne must find the Master before he can alter his fate – and the fate of the world.

The penultimate book in the series, The Inside Story, is a massive departure from the previous instalments. The now-formulaic ‘Fairy Tale Detective’ plot-line that’s been gradually phased out in the last two books is now put completely aside in favour of pure action-adventure. But also put aside is the ‘fairy tale characters living in the modern world’ concept, which is probably the bit I enjoy most about this series. The Inside Story sees Daphne and Sabrina leaving Ferryport Landing and jumping into the master-book of fairytales where they have to race through each story, in pursuit of the villainous ‘Master’, before he changes his own story forever and gives himself ultimate powers. Meanwhile ‘the Editor’ is pursuing them all for interfering with his stories and insisting they put things back the way they were. It’s all very meta and it does sound like a fun concept. But the execution left me feeling kind of flat. Continue reading

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Tumbleweed, Dick King-Smith

Tumbleweed, Dick King-SmithTumbleweed by Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by Harry Horse

First Published: 1987
Pages: 107 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Rating: 4/54/54/54/54/5

Wanted – damsel in distress

Sir Tumbleweed is a nervous and accident-prone knight. Then he meets an evil-looking witch who is surprisingly kind to him. Before he knows what’s happening, he has a lion and a unicorn as friends and has floored Sir Basil the Beastly in a jousting match. Now all he has to do is find a beautiful damsel to rescue from a smallish, not too fierce dragon.

A hilarious tale of unexpected surprises in Merrie England from the pen of master-storyteller, Dick King-Smith

Another fun little novel from my childhood by Dick King-Smith. A bit of a departure from his normal ‘farmyard fantasy’ (Dick King-Smith is a prolific author of books featuring talking pigs, mice, and various other animals), Tumbleweed is a fantasy-comedy featuring a very clumsy, nervous, knight who meets a friendly witch, befriends a lion and a unicorn, and goes off in search of damsel to rescue from a dragon.

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Dodos Are Forever, Dick King-Smith

Dodos Are Forever, Dick King-SmithDodos Are Fover by Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by David Parkins

First Published: 1989
Pages: 79 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Rating: 4/54/54/54/54/5

‘Dodos have no enemies, everyone knows that.’

Beatrice and Bertie, dodos in love, watch the ship approach with no thought of danger.

But the newly arrived giant sea-monkeys soon become their deadly enemy. And the rats they bring with them are worse still: an evil, cunning clan who threaten the dodos long after the sailors have left.

Is this the end of dodos forever? Or can they pull off a daring escape?

This is one of the first books I read all by myself. My year one teacher, Mrs. Heath, kept a personal stash of decent children’s books in a cupboard and after taking a week or so to ascertain that I was reading beyond the required level of ‘Biff, Chip and Kipper‘ she let me and a couple of others plunder from this cupboard as much as we liked during school hours – with the one stipulation that we couldn’t take the books home. So rereading this at almost 25 the first thing that strikes me is how much shorter it seems to be than when I was 5. It is still, however, a very fun little story about animals that it’s hard not to love. Seriously, who doesn’t love dodos?

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The Everafter War, Michael Buckley

The Everafter War, Michael BuckleyThe Everafter War by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2009
Pages: 306 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #7

Rating: 4/54/54/54/54/5

After two years trapped in enchanted sleep, Daphne and Sabrina’s parents are finally free. Unfortunately, they’ve awoken to chaos in Ferryport Landing. Prince Charming and his band of rebels are in hiding, plotting war against the Master and his henchmen. At first Sabrina is glad to have her family back. But after taking care of herself and Daphne for so long, she has forgotten how different – and challenging – life with parents can be. Meanwhile, the Master has dark plans for the Grimms. Finally, the family will come face-to-face with their tormentor, and a betrayal sp deep that it will change their world forever.

Whilst the Sisters Grimm series still suffers from all the problems I went into a little in my last review – mainly inconsistent pacing, tone, and writing – I liked this book a lot more than Tales From the Hood. Finally, finally, the ‘mystery’ formula is dropped to allow the overarching plot takes centre stage and the villain’s start acting like the competent bad guys they appeared in the alternative future of Magic and other Misdemeanours and not the bumblingly ineffective bunch of petty villains with patchy motivations they have always appeared in the other books. This is a book that, to be honest, should probably have come a lot sooner in the series, but I am glad that, even if it only happened in book seven, the plot is making some forward movements.

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Tales From the Hood, Michael Buckley

Tales from the Hood, Michael BuckleyTales From the Hood by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2008
Pages: 274 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #6

Rating: 3/53/53/53/53/5

In Ferryport Landing, everyone gets a day in court – even the Big Bad Wolf. Mr, Canis is put on trial for past crimes, and Mayor Heart’s kangaroo court is determined to find him guilty. It’s up to the Grimms to uncover evidence to save their friend, though Sabrina starts to wonder whether they would all be safer with the Wolf in jail. Despite her misgivings, Sabrina and her sister, Daphne, investigate what actually happened in the Big Bad Wolf’s most famous tale – and the real story will shock you!

I’ve given all the previous books in this series four stars but that’s a bit misleading, although I really enjoy them that is despite a lot of issues present throughout the series – but that came to a bit of a head for me in this book. The overarching plot is very drawn out with some of the books (2, 4, and 6 so far) failing to do anything much to advance it, Sabrina’s character development keeps going two step forwards in each book only to be followed by one step back in the next,  and the writing is often a bit clumsy. Buckley’s method of opening each book in medias res with a snippet from the climax before going back a few days to start the story again at the beginning has always bothered me. Rather than adding to anticipation or tension, I find it detracts from it and tends to make the climaxes anti-climactic. What I have given the previous books four stars for is primarily good ideas and ‘fun factor’ over their actual execution. This book had those good ideas, but I didn’t find it anywhere near so fun.

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Magic and other Misdemeanors, Michael Buckley

Magic and Other Misdemeanors, Michael BuckleyMagic and Other Misdemeanors by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2007
Pages: 282 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #5

Rating: 4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it

In their latest adventure, intrepid fairy-tale detectives Sabrina and Daphne Grimm investigate a rash of magical thefts that might add up to a very grim future for their family, who are not so popular in Ferryport Landing these days. With Granny Relda desperately scrambling to pay Mayor Heart’s outrageous taxes on humans, the Sisters Grimm tackle their first solo case – with a little help from the troublemaker Puck, of course. Meanwhile their old friend Mr. Canis seems to be losing his grip on his human self, becoming more like the Big Bad Wolf every day. Can Sabrina and Daphne solve the crime and change their family’s future for the better?

After their trip to New York, the Sisters Grimm are back in Ferryport Landing for their best adventure yet. Magic items have been stolen from three of Ferryport’s most powerful witches and tears in the fabric of time have started opening up in town, letting through dinosaurs, American civil war soldiers, and providing the sisters with a rather grim glimpse into their possible futures where dragons roam the skies and the Scarlet Hand rules Fairyport.

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The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. ValenteThe Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
Illustrated by Ana Juan

First Published: 2012
Pages: 344 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: Fairyland #2

Rating:

In the kingdom of Fairyland-Below, preparations are underway for the annual Revels . . . bur aboveground, the creatures of Fairyland are in no mood for a party.

It has been a long time since young September bid farewell to Fairyland, and she is excited to see it again; but upon her return she is shocked to find that her friends have been losing their shadows, and therefore their magic, to the kingdom of Fairyland-Below . . . It spells certain disaster and September won’t stand for it. Determined to make amends, she travels down into the underworld where, among creatures of ice and moonlight, she encounters a face she recognizes all too well: Halloween, the Hollow Queen. Only then does September realize what she must do to save Fairyland from slipping into the mundane world forever.

Come and join the Revels with September and her friends. But be warned: in Fairyland-Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem . . .

Still in post-novel afterglow here (this is what happens when you’re more interested in books than people). I really love this little series, it’s like a slice of childhood, I just want to drizzle cream and chocolate sauce all over this book and gobble it up. But that would ruin a very beautiful paperback (and probably my digestive system too) so instead I will simply love it and stroke it and tuck it carefully back on my bookshelf to treasure for all time. Like, seriously, if I could do the Gollum voice that is exactly what I would be doing right now.

And now that I’ve scared all the normal people off I’ll get onto the review. . .

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