Friday, April 2, 2010

A read on the child side

I have a fondness for children's, or perhaps it's called juvenile literature...whatever...the stuff written for the 9+ crowd.  And it's not because I have a kid in the house of that general age.  I have found that this particular target audience has inspired some fun, whimsical fare. 

A few years back I stumbled across the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage.  I think I was actually in a Harry Potter withdrawal at the time and looking for something to fill the gap between books in that series.  I had passed over the Septimus Heap books (I seem to recall there were only one or two available at the time) because here was yet another series about magic and wizards and young wizards growing up, but I ended up buying the first book, Magyk, for kind of a silly reason.  The book was nice to hold, short, squat and fat.  It turned out to be a fast read and very fun.  I passed of off to my then precocious 7 or 8 year old reader, who read the first chapter and didn't want to read anymore because the main character dies in the first few pages.  What kind of a story is that?!

It was a couple years before I could convince a then older and wiser reader (who read the Fellowship of the Ring and loved it) to pick it up again.  Once the death scene passed, the rest of the story seemed to catch hold of that young imagination.

I don't want to talk too much about the story because of all the twists and turns and funky happenings (or are they fun key happenings?) and I wouldn't want to spoil anyone else's enjoyment but I recommend that you read it with a British accent in mind (assuming that my readers are predominantly of the US ilk) it seems to make the humour that much more funny.

We also are a fan of books on CD or otherwise electronic form.  You can probably track these down on CD but they are easier and cheaper to get from iTunes.  We had a great time last summer on a road trip listening to Magyk.  The person that narrated it produced some fairly unique personas for the various characters, but the most hilarious is the voice for Marcia Overstrand, the Extraordinary Wizard.  Perhaps I betray my age when I say that she ends up sounding exactly like Paul Lynde, but the effect is very entertaining.  Unfortunately, the narrator changes for the recording of the second book so perhaps someone else didn't think the effect was quite as charming.

Anyway, the series is fun overall and the stories are quite detailed and complex so you end up getting a lot of adventure in spite of the big type.  I hear a movie is planned for 2012 or thereabouts -  hopefully they don't Hollywoodize it too badly, but that may be a vain hope.

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