Phyllis Wong Mysteries– Geoffrey McSkimming

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http://phylliswong.com/

Quite a few years ago now, when I was teacher-librarian at a lovely Sunshine Coast hinterland school, and trying to engage more boys in reading for pleasure (an ongoing mission!), I was fortunate enough to host Geoffrey McSkimming aka Cairo Jim for an afternoon of fun and madcap inspiration. What a successful venture it was – boys were hounding me for months afterwards gobbling up the Cairo Jim series and more.

Now it is a real pleasure to review Geoffrey’s newest series with more unforgettable characters, fast-paced plots and a superlative dash of magic.

Phyllis Wong and the Forgotten Secrets of Mr Okyto

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ISBN: 9781742378213
Australian Pub.: August 2012
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: A & U Children

RRP $14.99

Meet Phyllis Wong, great- granddaughter of the famous Wallace Wong (that great 1930s conjuror of stage and screen fame) herself a cannily adept magician. Phyllis lives in the beautiful Art Deco apartment block built by her fantastical forebear along with her Dad, Harvey, and a very smart fox terrier called Daisy. Her best friend Clement is an able foil and sometimes inept assistant for her adventures and the cast is rounded out by other inhabitants of the Wallace Wong Building, all of them rather unmistakeable and somewhat eccentric.

This first adventure begins with the distressed Mrs Lowerblast, proprietor of Lowerblast’s Antiques & Collectables Emporium (ground level Wallace Wong Building)  being terribly upset to discover the theft of a precious piece of Australiana pottery.  As things heat up a valuable diamond necklace also disappears, closely followed by a rare Picasso, without so much as the slightest hint of a human culprit being involved. Could it possibly be…well, ghosts? How can a valuable necklace – securely protected – just vanish into thin air as if by magic?  Ahh, as if by magic! – Phyllis Wong brings all her unusual powers of observation and thinking into play and combined with her expert knowledge of sleight-of-hand manages to reveal a very nasty criminal, helping out her friend and neighbour Chief Inspector Inglis.

Geoffrey’s skill with bringing characters to life on the page, his quirkiness with language and his ability to create a rollicking mystery laced with humour and cleverness never fails to impress.  Phyllis Wong lives in a very modern world, with all the gadgetry young readers are used to yet the story still retains the essential flavour of older style adventure-mysteries with their endless appeal, where Good always triumphs over Evil. The city in which she lives is skilfully anonymous enabling any reader to project themselves into the thick of the action with ease. Phyllis is a strong character being smart, resourceful and mature, with a fierce loyalty to her friends of all ages. With plenty to engage both boy and girl readers this will be a sure-fire hit with children aged around Upper Primary to Lower Secondary.

Watch the trailers here and here

Phyllis Wong and the Return of the Conjuror

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ISBN: 9781743318379
Australian Pub.: June 2014
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: A & U Children
Subject: Children’s fiction

RRP $14.99

The second of the Phyllis Wong Mysteries sees Phyllis, Clement and Chief Inspector Inglis caught up in a baffling case of rare Shakespearean published folios, which are suddenly appearing in auctions.  How can it be that such rare items as the First Folios of Shakespeare can almost flood the market, when so few of them have survived the centuries since they were first published?

Of course, if one could travel back in time and buy them firsthand and bring them back to the present day that would make perfect sense. But that is impossible – or is it?

Phyllis is astounded to meet her famous great-grandfather Wallace Wong when he travels through time and re-appears in his old basement of magical wonders, now Phyllis’ own workshop. Wallace shares with Phyllis the secret of ‘Transiting’ through strange Pockets in time and space, a skill he developed through his dedicated study of science, inspired by Einstein’s theories, as well as his own application of the mysteries of magic. This certainly explains Wallace’s strange disappearance in the middle of his act in Venezuela, back in 1936. And – importantly, explains how the nasty Mistress Colley is obtaining Shakespearean First Folios to sell for enormous profits.  Not exactly illegal, if somewhat unethical but when it becomes apparent that Mistress Colley intends to steal original manuscripts written by the Bard, it’s time for the resourceful Miss Wong to step in.

Phyllis, Clement and Chief Inspector Inglis know the only way to foil the plans of the loathsome Mistress Colley is to Transit back to The Globe and thwart her illicit designs.  As one might imagine, there is bemusement – and amusement – all round for obvious reasons when strangers appear and try to warn William Shakespeare. However, as with all satisfying adventure-mysteries, the action rolls on and the villain is stymied.

 

Another real page-turner (I read it in one sitting!) this second volume of Phyllis Wong certainly has me anticipating the next instalment.

Be sure not to miss out, put these on your shopping list – they are guaranteed to ‘vanish’ off the shelves rapidly!

Watch the book trailers here and here

Check out Phyllis’ Facebook page here

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