Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Kintana and Captain’s Curse by Susan Brownrigg

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2021     

The story is set around Nosy Boraha, Pirate Island and Madagascar. Susan Brownrigg introduces some real people: Captain Blackbeard, (Edward Teach), William Kidd, and Israel Hands, who in the book is Kintana’s father. Many of the animals mentioned are native to Madagascar –an island that has 25,000 different species, many of which are only found there.

We also have the normal ingredients of a pirate story; treasure, parrots and a man with a wooden leg.

There is plenty of pace.  The story just does not stop moving. The chapters are also short, almost all ending with a cliff-hanger.

There is also a domestic story of a sound relationship between a father and daughter who spend their time looking after animals and managing a pet shop. Kintana also befriends the naïve cabin boy, Bartholomew.  

The book is 174 pages long.  The text is blocked but double-spaced. The font, Kingfisher 10 -16, has a serif.  It is actually small in the book.  At the front of the book there are sketch maps of the two islands. There are also monochrome pictures of eight of the animals. Each chapter heading has a monochrome picture of a parrot and a skull and cross bones.

At the end of the book there are a useful glossary, a note from the author about some of the facts in the story, an author bio and some acknowledgments. These may be of more interest to adults than the chid reader though the glossary may be helpful to the young reader.                

Saturday, July 3, 2021

I am Thunder by Mohammad Khan

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2018

Muzna Saleem is the only child of Pakistani parents.  Her mother and father have high hopes of her becoming a doctor but she wants to be a writer.  Her father loses his job and a cousin takes pity on them.  They move into a flat above the cousin’s Michelin-starred restaurant and her father becomes a waiter.

This offers Muzna an opportunity to reinvent herself as she starts at a new school.   She is still a   serious scholar and gets on well with English teacher and form tutor, Mr Dunthorpe. And she meets Arif Malik.

She becomes convinced by Arif and his brother Jameel that the Islamic faith is the right one but just in time realises that Jameel is a terrorist.  She goes to the police.

Mohammad Khan’s narrative is very convincing.  We really get to know Muzna well and can understand how she almost became radicalized. The issue is complex. Muzna’s teenage rebellion against her parents takes the form of her becoming more religious.

This is truly a bildungsroman. Muzna learns to make her own mind up. It has an upbeat ending: she successfully helps the police to prevent a disaster, she is reconciled with her parents and in the final scene she meets Arif again.  There is every hope that their relationship can continue.            

The Monster Belt by Ruth Estevez

    click on image to see on Amazon  Both Harris White and Dee Winter encounter monsters and drownings in their early lives.   Harris...