I bought this book because I liked the nose on the huge floating head on the cover. However, I soon discovered that huge noses wasn't the only thing I would like. The names too were most appealing. Isomee, the poor young, innocent yet spirited girl, her horrible uncle, Hogg-Bottom and then the Uma, Brackenbelly - what wonderful names! Obviously the author has been eating one too many cabbages.
Each chapter is short and it's a breeze to get through, and get through you do as this is a real page-turner. I was very impressed with the descriptions of the world the characters inhabit and the characters themselves. 'Isomee's curly red hair looked like it was caught on fire...'
The characters themselves are involving, you don't feel indifferent and you do end up rooting for them. Brackenbelly is a noble character and Isomee's sweet like cabbage ice cream.
There's good pacing and plenty of mystery as we learn about the chostri and whether or not they will they capture the beast.
Now, to begin book two.
This is indeed an exciting adventure story that had my slugs and I on the edge of our seats. A couple of slugs got so excited that they fell off their seats. Unfortunately, for them, there was a a frying pan beneath. Fortunately for me, it provided me with a little snack whilst I read this quite wonderful story.
The main reason I like it is because I am a little OCD and a bit of a maniac when it comes to hygiene, like our protagonist, Ethan. The poor boy has to leave his opulent home and then, via his Dad and stepmother's place in Zimbabwe go on safari and then gets transported to a strange, magical kingdom trying to rescue his cousin, Joe! Think of the dirt the poor Ethan has to encounter!
With poor cousin Joe being held captive, will Ethan and the others rescue him in time? Or will he end up like those slugs that fell off the chair?
What we have is a story with magic, adventure, witchcraft, all set in Africa - which is wonderful for kids to read and learn about. My remaining slugs are already looking forward to book two! Excellent stuff.
My slugs and I had previously read D M Potter's In the Magician's House and Once Upon an Island follows the same formula of interactivity. This is fun, intriguing and with a little bit of history and geography about New Zealand thrown in too - not so much that my brain might explode. Unlike last time with In the Magician's House I actually made it to the end and got to meet a certain Captain and then was able to decide my own fate. I think children will love it, my slugs did, and I can recommend it if you're looking for something a little different and challenging for your 7 - 11 year olds.
This brings me back to my pre-slug days. I remember reading/playing this kind of book/game when I was a little tulip but we had to use a die. I didn't expect it when I first saw this book and was delighted to discover it was interactive as it filled me with tonnes of nostalgia and aromas of tulips. Unfortunately, I ended up being turned to stone on my first go and had to return to the beginning, which made me very angry and forced me to throw a cabbage at Dieter. I'm just not very good. It's unusually written and that was pleasing and is definitely not your run-of-the-mill fairytale so I think it's got something new to offer to young readers. This is a lot of fun and I'm sure many kids will love it as much as I love planning military attacks with my slugs.
Choosing books worthy enough to be read and reviewed by Elias Zapple.