The Lost Magician

I was offered a copy of The Lost Magician for review (thanks to Hachette Kids) and how could I resist with a cover like that?! Courtesy of Ben Mantle, it has a wonderfully magical feel and is a perfect match for the story inside.

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An ode to the world of Narnia:

1945. They have survived the Blitz, but when Simon, Patricia, Evelyn and Larry step through a mysterious library door, it is the beginning of their most dangerous adventure yet.

I didn’t know about the connections to Narnia when I got this, but as I started reading I was taken back to the first time I read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and the countless times I stepped into my grandma’s wardrobe (complete with *fake* fur coat) hoping it would lead me through to a snow-covered Narnia (and imagining it had when it invariably didn’t!).

As in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the story centres around four siblings who unwittingly find themselves key to saving the land they’ve stumbled upon.

As with the original four, here too are four very distinct personalities and everyone will have a different favourite. Personally, I loved Larry and Grey Bear. Evelyn will go down well as a female science fanatic, and Simon’s dyslexia (undiagnosed because of the time period) proves an interesting perspective and its nice to see it represented in a book about books.

Cleverly reimagined, this uses the Narnia stories as its base and leaps off into an entirely new world, albeit one with a war raging – mirroring the one the children have left behind and posing some interesting thoughts, ideas and talking points on that theme.

First we meet the Reads (pronounced ‘red’) and Unreads. The Reads are storybook characters, and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling a little buzz of excitement as some very well-known and well-loved characters were described, introduced and alluded to.

However, trying to destroy the Reads are the Unreads, led by the White Queen inspired Jana (and yes, she is every bit as icy cold and merciless!) The Unreads represent facts, truth, information and data. Brilliantly imagined and described, they turn what could easily have become a nostalgia-fest right into something original and altogether less cosy, with futuristic robots, vehicles and buildings. They provide a great balance to the comforting idea of the Reads.

And ultimately, that is a key theme of the book – balance and compromise; of needing and benefiting from differences – as is the idea that stories are not just entertainment and diversion, but that despite seeming to be the complete opposite of fact, they too teach us things, help us to learn and develop and bring about change and progress.

Books, adventure, battles and magic – it’s an exciting and modern take on ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ and the perfect homage to libraries, librarians and all things bookish!

WWW Wednesday 3/10/18

Hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’, every Wednesday we ask and answer the 3 W’s:

Last time, I snuck an extra W in there too with what Peapod and I had read that week, but I’ve decided to do a regular “Peapod’s Picks” post each Friday instead – picture books/board books new and old!

This week’s WWW, then:

What are you currently reading?

I’ve only just opened this, so no idea about it yet, though it begins with a poem that I thought was beautiful so it’s a promising start…

What have you just finished reading?

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I finished The Lost Magician by Piers Torday. I’ve been meaning to read his ‘Wild’ books for quite some time and still not got round to them, but if this is anything to go by the hype surrounding them is justified!

It’s a fantastic, modern take on ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ and the perfect homage to libraries, librarians and all things bookish!

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Talking of modern takes on classic books, I’ve also read this beautiful modern version of ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’ which was one of my favourite fairy tales growing up.

Full reviews of both will follow…

What are you planning on reading next?

These are the most pressing of my TBR pile:

But I also have this which I’ve been waiting months for…

Which would you choose?

Have you read any of the books here? What are you reading at the moment?

WWW Wednesday: 12/9/18

Hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’,  every Wednesday we ask and answer the 3 W’s:

WWW WednesdaysI’ve missed the last few weeks – newborns are time consuming! – and I’m definitely not getting through books at my usual rate (goodbye evening read before bed!) but I’m just about surfacing again! Posts and reviews are likely to continue to be sporadic, but we’ll do what we can!

What are you currently reading?

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I started Piers Torday’s ‘The Lost Magician’ at the start of the week and I am loving it so far! Set in post-war Salisbury, it’s a fresh twist on the Narnia tale – no wardrobe here tough, but a library leading 4 siblings into a magical world of Reads and Unreads. It finds a perfect balance between a feeling of nostalgia and time gone by but with a fresh and modern feel to the writing. My favourite things about it so far have to be Larry and Grey Bear: “Grey Bear nodded, with the help of Larry’s hand.”

What have you just finished reading?

I finished The Trouble With Perfect by Helena Duggan earlier in the week, it’s the sequel to the wonderful A Place Called Perfect.

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I have to say I enjoyed book one more – just that little bit darker, creepier and with what felt like a slightly higher action:dialogue ratio. Trouble was still thoroughly enjoyable – with a mechanical mutant zombie, evil twins, chemical clouds and kidnappings it will be a sure-fire hit with younger readers. Full review to follow.

What has Peapod read this week?

Ok, I need to amend my WWW Wednesday to WWWW Wednesday since I’ve snuck an extra W in there now! Peapod and I are just starting to manage a story most days, and usually a board or cloth book too if he’s awake and in a good mood for long enough! This week, we’ve been reading:

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My Animals by Xavier Deneux (board book) – high contrast black and white images for little eyes with fab little peepholes on each page teasing a glimpse of the next animal make it one that will last as he gets bigger too. This is probably my favourite of his black and white books.

Baby Lit Les Miserables (board books) – A new addition to our Baby Lit collection, with images from the story and words and phrases in English and French. We bought this as a present for Daddy as he loves Les Mis and my Francophile friend will also be getting a copy in the post for her little boy!

Sneak a Peek Colours (board book) – with bright, bold patterned pages I love this colours board book. Peapod ‘s mind was pretty much blown by the mirror at the end too – win, win.

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Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers (picture book) – a classic – I suspect we’ll be making our way through a lot of Oliver Jeffers in the coming years, but the short, simple text of the ‘little boy’ stories (Up and Down, Lost and Found, How to Catch a Star) make them perfect for now (plus these are some of my favourite Oliver Jeffers books) I love the humour of Up and Down and the friendship between the boy and penguin is so touching too.

Mopoke by Philip Bunting (picture book) Another book that just really tickles me: short and simple with clever word play that adults will love as much as if not more than) the kids! I thought I’d reviewed it on here, but it seems I haven’t – how I’ve let that happen I don’t know! A full review will follow…

How To Lose A Lemur by Frann Preston-Gannon – Frann Preston-Gannon is such a hidden gem of an author-illustrator, not nearly shouted about enough! I love lemurs s this ticked a lot of boxes for me. Gannon takes us on a heart-warming journey of a reluctant friendship complete with hot air balloons, bikes, trains, mountains, oceans and…LEMURS! Love it (and so does Peapod!)

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What are you planning on reading next?

I never know until I finish my current read and see what I fancy, but I’ve got SO much to choose from at the moment! These are probably the top contenders, but it could all change!

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Which would you choose?

Have you read any of the books I’ve read this week? What are you reading at the moment?