Monday, 28 May 2012

Operation Diamond

Adventure Island Book Six
The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton
Lashings of Ginger Beer
You might have guessed by now that Enid Blyton is one of my favourite authors.
One of the things I love best about The Famous Five and The Five Find-outers and Dog is that, in between tracking down baddies, they’re always having fabulous picnics or midnight feasts, with loads of cakes and sandwiches and, of course, lashings of ginger beer.
When I started the Adventure Island books I thought that Scott, Jack, Emily and Drift deserved plenty of yummy treats to keep them going as they pursue their investigations too. So I made sure that there was a café  - Dotty’s Tea Rooms – in Castle Key, where they could have fish and chips or ice cream whenever they needed some sustenance. And the boys’ Aunt Kate just happens to be an excellent cook who specializes in delicious cakes and cookies.
But I hadn’t realized quite how much food I’d included until a friend pointed it out to me. Don’t those kids ever stop eating? she asked.
Anyone for another jam tart?
 Well, I replied, crime-fighting is very hungry work!
The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton is a particularly baffling case. The friends have to work out the connection between a series of seemingly unrelated crimes and uncover the truth behind the sightings of a strange glowing skeleton. So it’s more important than ever that there are plenty of snacks to keep their strength up. But it was only when I looked back through the pages that I realized my friend might just have a point. It’s one long scoff-a-thon! Let us consider the evidence.
  1. Jack and Scott arrive at Stone Cottage for the holidays. Aunt Kate greets them with a batch of her famous gingerbread.
  2. All go off to Roshendra Farm to round up missing rabbits. Hot chocolate and cakes in the farmhouse kitchen.
  3. Emily shares her toast and marmite with Drift. (Drift is always happy to share the friends’ food, although he draws the line at cucumber.)
  4. Attend the Castle Key Feast, the big parade on the island. Surprise, surprise; it involves a lot more food! Jack orders two burgers before he ventures alone into the dark, deserted ice factory (What could possibly go wrong?)
  5. Jack has been injured in the line of duty. (Remember that ice factory. Something went wrong! Very wrong!). He makes the most of his recovery time, scoffing tubs of ‘medicinal’ raspberry ripple ice cream. Oh, and here comes Aunt Kate with some more cupcakes.
  6. To Dotty’s Tea Rooms for hot chocolates as a reward for helping Old Bob the fisherman unload his catch of mackerel (solving mysteries isn’t all about thrills and glamour – some of it is about very smelly fish!)
  7. Off to the moors for a lovely picnic . . .
Phew! I’m feeling a bit peckish now. Are you?
Maybe it’s time for a snack.
After all, treasure-hunting is hungry work too!
Hmmm, what would you order if you could have any meal or snack you wanted right this minute?
PS. If you’d like the recipe for Aunt Kate’s delicious gingerbread, have a look at Jack’s blog on the Adventure Island website!

Question 6: In the ADVENTURE ISLAND book, what is the name of the café in Castle Key where Jack, Scott and Emily go to eat if they get peckish?
Roshendra Café (Y)
Dotty’s Tea Rooms (A)

For your next clue, visit:
On: Tuesday 29 May

Monday, 21 May 2012

Into Imagination

Just as I was beginning to think that the summer was a very quiet period of lovely books my post arrived!

Lovely is not a word that really does justice to the three books which made up one beautiful parcel today for these books are high quality in every sense. Their production, their content and the stories they tell are stunning, beautiful and hauntingly clever.

What books am I referring to? Well the first I saw and will share with you is The Fishing Trip by Beatrice Rodriguez. Not only was I intrigued by the cover of this book whihc looks at once old fashioned and yet quaintly appealing to children, it was the name, not a name I recognise among children's picture book authors. Rodriguez is a French illustrator, who has received the highest acclaim in previous reviews for he whimsical and intelligent work and this latest offering does not disappoint. Published by Gecko Press, specialists in English versions of curious books from around the world this story is a wordless adventure about a chicken who would do anything for her family.
Now I know that I would do anything for my chickens so this book appeals to me on another level. Having said that I would also do anything for my family as I am sure most of us would so therein lies a further element of appeal. Chicken has an unusual family as we soon see, with a fox a crab and an unhatched egg! When Fox opens the fridge to find it is empty Chicken sets off to catch some food. She does this but is then caught herself, it seems the ocean to which she has gone is a dangerous place.
Toothy young chicks, a fearsome (though elegantly depicted) sea monster strive to prevent her archiving her aim. However it would seem that the real danger has been at home all along...or has it?
The strong narrative in this story is evident from the start. It is a loving visual feast of adventure and humour, the characters are strong, the illustration dramatic yet familiar. A real treat for young readers and their families.

The Birthday Cake by The Tjong-Khing is visual feast. A look and find adventure story, a detective romp full of humour and plenty of red herrings! The illustrations provide leads for readers to follow but are the the right leads, have they seen all the detail on th rage or will they need to go back? Every double page spread reveals a scene from the making of the birthday cake on the village green, there is plenty of activity, much preparation and lots of fun and games.
To help children follow the story asking them questions may help, guide them through what they see or leave their imaginations to work and see what they discover. The joy of this book is that the many leads allow readers to return to the pages over and over again to see if the story will take them along a different adventurous path! Another great story for promoting visual literacy and having fun!

Finally in this very special parcel was a book with words! The Best Singer In The World by Ulf Nilsson and illustrated Eva Eriksson originated in Sweden but is a story to be enjoyed by children around the world. This is the story of two little boys, one who loves to sing, the other who loves to listen. Playing games with singing is all very well but what about singing in front of a crowd, singing seriously? Can the hero of the story do it or will his nerves overcome him?
This is a very simple story with a very simple message, be brave, be strong and love your siblings! A gentle story with gentle illustrations it sends out an important message with humour and love. For young readers ready for work and schoo, this is a charming and comforting story. I hope you have the chance to enjoy these books from Gecko Press, I urge ou to try them at home, in school and in libraries, they highlight talent from around the world and emphasise the joy of storytelling no matter where you are or what language you may speak.

A true joy.