Monday, April 25, 2016

The fourteenth summer of Angus Jack by Jen Storer illustrated by Lucinda Gifford

The spooky music of this trailer by Jen Storer for The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack matches perfectly with the tone of this complex fantasy.  As the blurb says : this book is funny, exhilarating and a little bit scary.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this book comes from trying to work out who are the good characters and who are the evil ones.  This does get sorted out but not until quite close to the final battle scene.  If you need to select an extract from this book this scene would be a good one to read aloud - Chapter 48 and 49.

There is a veil between our human world and the Old Realm - the world of goblins, witches and magick. Some humans have worked out how to move between the worlds.  Two little goblin girls have come to our human world in search of a narrare.  The hope to retrieve this precious globe shaped object and thus gain the status of the elite Guardian Class back in their own world.  Two human children are caught up in this drama when their grieving father moves them, once again, this time to live beside the beach and beside a very odd old lady, Reafen, who has an intriguing shop.  It is in this shop where the children see and learn about the narrare.

"It holds memories of the goblins .. each tiny snowflake stores memories of their customs, their music, their stories, their comings and goings. Their knowledge of the earth - its mountains, its land, its subterranean treasures.  To own the narrare is to own the power.  In the Old Realm they are guarded with great reverence."

One of my favourite scenes in this book comes when the carnival man Barney (a minor character), who is love with The Donut Lady, tries to take the boat which belongs to the goblin girls.

Graini explains "It is an awe-inspiring vessel and that Barney person tried to steal it.  When our boat would not allow him on board, he became angry. He tried to take a slice of our boat's timber ... so our boat bit him ... And hurled him aside.  ... You do not want to get bitten by one of our boats. They have an exceptional grip. .. Our boat blasted him with flames from its mouth . Whoosh!"

Here is a terrific description of Reafen : "The new neighbour was not much taller than Martha, and slightly hunched.  But the way she was dressed! evening gown.  It was lurid red like squashed pomegranates ... the top bit was layered with heavy black lace and studded with large red beads that twinkled in the sun.  A lolly-pink feather boa trailed from her throat.  Her hair was blue-black, piled in glossy loops like curled licorice straps."

Character list
Angus Jack - age fourteen trying to make sense of his father, cope with the grief of losing his mother and take care of his sister

Martha Jack - Sister to Angus, in a rage against the world and especially against her father

The Professor - father of Angus and Martha

The Donut Lady - a traveller between Realms, her motivations are slowly revealed

Reafen - the eccentric old lady who has a cluttered junk shop called Frozen in Time which is next door to Angus and Martha.  She wears outrageous clothes and has very large feet.  Her main diet consists of very sugary treats.

Graini and Ava - the goblin girls. They are loyal and brave become very good friends to Angus and Martha whom they recognise as "kind and truth-speaking ... gentle and peace-loving humans."

Varla - the witch from the Old Realm who is desperate to get her hands on the narrare that Reafen has on display in her shop.  She uses mirrors to spy on our world.

Lynch - he is also after the narrare and will stop at nothing to get it.

The fourteenth summer of Angus Jack has a web site where you will find answers to some of your questions about this book.  I should also mention the illustrations by Lucinda Gifford are perfect.

Jen Storer has several books in our school library the Truly Tan series, Tensy Farlow and the home for mislaid children, and The accidental princess.

I read The fourteenth summer of Angus Jack because it is another title from our CBCA 2016 Notables list.  There are some excellent titles in this category - Younger Readers - but I think this book is certain to reach the final short list of six.

You might also enjoy The Emerald Atlas.

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