ISBN 10: 1460756185
Imprint: HarperCollins – AU
On Sale: 23/07/2018
List Price: 22.99 AUD
Oh my gosh!
Yes, of course there will be more to say but really this book was so incredible it really did almost leave me speechless. Just when I think Emily Rodda cannot get any better (I mean, I just loved The Shop at Hooper’s Bend!) she comes up with something so extraordinary that it is hard to imagine how any person can be so very talented.
After their excursion bus breaks down on a lonely country road a history teacher and four children are forced to seek shelter in a strange old, once grand, house until they are rescued. The overwhelming atmosphere of the shabby half-ruined place is one of melancholy and malevolence. When they accidentally discover a very beautiful hand-written and illustrated book in a secret drawer the mystery deepens. The allegorical fairytale written to tell the story of Walter and Sparrow drives Colin and Tara especially, as the most sensitive of the group, to seek the truth behind the story . While they are all intrigued by the strangely vivid almost lifelike painted illustrations it is the story itself that envelops them and compels them to keep reading throughout the night.
Emily’s book within a book explores the themes of justice, loyalty, compassion and true love all cloaked in a tale filled with magic and murder, prophecies and promises and long-hidden secrets.
As the haunting tale of Walter and Sparrow unravels the children and their teacher are drawn into a poignant and forgotten history until they finally solve the puzzle and at last, though decades later, justice can be served.
What a treat this book is! I read the first three chapters to Year 5 last Friday and you could have heard a pin drop with all of them clamouring for more – fortunately they will get that!
If you haven’t yet added this to your shelves be sure to do so. I highly recommend it for discerning readers from around ten years upwards.
Walker Books Australia
Imprint: CWP HARDBACK
Australian RRP: $27.99
New Zealand RRP: $29.99
Traditional fairytales continue as such a rich source for adaptations, retellings and reworkings that one is often amazed that anyone can come up with a new approach.
Acclaimed graphic novel creator Matt Phelan has proven that it is very possible to revitalise such stories with this interpretation of Snow White.
With a dark and brooding style reminiscent of film noir, Phelan has taken 1930s Manhattan as his setting for this evocative rendering of the favourite tale.
A wealthy man loses his wife but holds onto his fortune despite the relentless and ominous rat-a-tat-tat of the stock ticker. While the rest of New York reels under the collapse of Wall Street the man remarries a glamorous and well known Ziegfield Follies star who swiftly ensures the pretty little daughter, Samantha known as Snow, is removed to a boarding school. Before too long, the wicked new wife decides she cannot be certain that her husband’s good fortune will continue so she cold-bloodedly removes him from the scene via a poisoned cocktail. Her wrath when she discovers that the canny man has altered his will in favour of his beloved daughter is ugly and malicious. However, if anything should happen to Snow, then she would inherit it all and she is completely prepared to make that a reality.
She engages a thug to do the dirty work but he cannot bring himself to do away with the sweet girl and tells her to run. But the seedy alleys of New York are no safe place for a young woman on her own and she is pursued by two street hoods. In the nick of time she is rescued by some small men – in fact, they are just boys who take her to their hideout.
And so the story goes on – with a wonderfully satisfactory happy ending.
The amazing illustrations done throughout in grey tones (until the last few pages) have been done in ink, pencil and watercolour with some digital adjustments and would be a rich resource to inspire young artists. It is these illustrations which tell the story with very little text and make for a sombre and gripping retell of this classic.
A beautiful addition to your collection for secondary students particularly those interested in creative writing and illustrating.
You can access teaching notes here and watch a terrific trailer here.