Category Archives: Fairies/Magical Realms

Nobody’s Story: The Golden Locket by Stephanie Mayor

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GoldenLocketcover copyNobody’s Story: The Golden Locket by Stephanie Mayor, e-book, 220 pages, published by This Story is Mine Publishing in 2014.

Stephanie finds herself alone in the world when her parents mysteriously disappear. Her only companion is her cat, Angel. Whilst holding a golden locket that belonged to her mother, she accidentally pops open the clasp, and the locket transports her and Angel into a very different world to the one they were living in. This beautiful new world is called Metilia, and is a land of kingdoms, castles, princes and talking animals. Stephanie and Angel embark on the most exciting of journeys, traversing the seas with Prince Aidian to the Silver Isles. They encounter diverse vegetation, an evil presence, a dragon and some terrifying man-eating sea creatures. They also take on the nasty Familians, the people of another Kingdom who enjoy plundering, hurting and killing to get what they want.

I loved The Golden Locket right from the start. It captured my imagination and reminded me of the fantastical adventures I dreamt of having as a child. Such wonderful adventures, discoveries, and animals that can talk! The story is written with such detail, the land and the characters came to life as I read. The scenery was divine, the characters interesting, and the travels exciting. Though if I were travelling through Metilia, I might prefer to avoid some of the nastier creatures such as dirwins! I liked that we were introduced to some of the history and legends of Metilia, Camtra and Famila during the book. The story also contained some romantic elements, but it wasn’t overly soppy or forced. Romantic notions within the story were fairytale-esque with nothing explicit, good for younger readers.

Angel is such a sassy cat. She is feisty, rude and opinionated, but also brave and loyal. Dedicated to protecting Stephanie, she also comes across as over-protective and paranoid, but I liked her a lot. She has such a huge personality, just as I imagine a cat would if they suddenly had the ability to talk. I really liked Stephanie as well. She is strong, intelligent and caring, with plenty of charm, whilst also being quietly spoken and gentle. She is often apologising for Angel’s brash nature, but she loves the cat dearly.

There were many other characters in the story, all of whom were well developed. Prince Aidian, as the main male character seemed to complement Stephanie well, they have similar values, though rather different pasts. He is sincere and generous to all those he meets, and he genuinely cares about Stephanie and her quest. Being a Prince, he is of course somewhat protective of her, but she still gets to be herself with him. I particularly enjoyed the banter between the animals and people, with many of the horse’s and Angel’s comments making me laugh. Muddle the donkey was a memorable character that added a little bit of absurdity to every situation.

The Golden Locket is suitable for children in middle to upper primary school and beyond. It should be especially appealing to fans of fantasy adventure. It is the first book in the Nobody’s Story series, and I am very much looking forward to the second book to see what adventures Stephanie and Angel have next.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

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The Dream Walker, Land of Mystica Series Volume 1 by Michelle Murray

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dreamwalkercoverThe Dream Walker Land of Mystica Series Volume 1 by Michelle Murray, paperback novel, 119 pages, published in 2014.

Miranda is a college student when she becomes plagued by vivid dreams of a different world. As they interrupt her sleep and put her studies at risk, she feels that she might be going crazy. A simple spell from a local bookstore, and Miranda is transported to Mystica, the land of her dreams, and a land which is in trouble. In Mystica there is an old legend of six wizards, three white and three black, who were imprisoned in stone. Since then the magic has been gone from the land. Now the black-hearted wizard, Midnight, is free and rampaging through Mystica with an army of dark creatures and Miranda must find and free the wizard, Lightning, the only person that can stop Midnight before all is lost.

This was a simply written adventure with magic. It lacked the depth that I would expect from a fantasy fiction for young adults, and was really much more suited to middle and upper primary school children. I flew through the book in one evening, as it was an easy and enjoyable read.

The premise of the story is basic; a land in trouble, one special saviour goes on a quest to save said land. It’s a popular theme in books I’ve read lately, but I tend to like these stories, and I did like The Dream Walker, but I thought that it had unfulfilled potential. There could have been a lot more depth, greater description of the surrounds, and the way the characters moved or spoke. The time Miranda spent in each part of Mystica seemed too short, and the action scenes were somewhat truncated. However, the story is still sound, and it would be great for younger or less mature readers.

There were Ice Men, wizards, magical forests, warriors, Kings and castles, all good elements for any fantasy adventure! My favourite part of the story was when Miranda and Walking Bear travelled through the Forest of Lost Souls. I liked the idea that the trees could change the paths and whisper to each other. The trees could protect the forest from malevolent forces, while assisting those with good intentions. Miranda definitely had good in mind. She accepted her task bravely despite the danger she faced, and despite the fact that she didn’t even know that Mystica existed before she was asked to save it. I liked her and I hope we get to know her better in the future volumes of this series.

A handful of spelling and grammatical errors happen in most published work, but there seemed to be more than average in The Dream Walker. It interrupted the flow of the story a couple of times, but should only bother you if you’re a bit pedantic (like me). The formatting also changed midway through the book, going from paragraphs separated by a line at the start, to no separation later on. And the lines were double-spaced, which left me turning pages often. However, these things can be easily overlooked once you really get into the story.

The Dream Walker was a fun and interesting read, and I will be recommending it to my third grader to read. The second book in the Land of Mystica Series, The Dream Walker Returns is now available too.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Multiverse of Max Tovey by Alastair Swinnerton

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TMoMTThe Multiverse of Max Tovey by Alastair Swinnerton, e-book, 220 pages, published by European Geeks Publishing in 2015.

Fourteen year old Max Tovey has some issues. He has been experiencing a terrifying recurrent dream, hallucinations of the distant past, and now his parents are taking him to Ham Hill to run his dying grandfather’s inn. Life is about to get even more complicated for Max though, as he learns that he is a Time Traveller, and that the dream isn’t a dream at all, but a memory. Now it is up to Max to travel through time, searching for the Montacute Cross that will seal the demonic world, and right the past and future of his own time path.

The Multiverse of Max Tovey is the first book in the Hamdun Chronicles, a new series for young adults. Max Tovey is just fourteen, but the fate of the world rests upon his shoulders, placed there by his grandfather and by the Ancient Monarchs of the Nine Hills. He must face his insecurities and anxieties to succeed, keeping his wits and battling demons, soldiers and villains.

Adventure, fantasy, mythology, and history combine in this exciting and gripping novel. It is very well written, rich in descriptive and emotive language, engaging the reader and pulling them through time with Max. While the story is incredibly complex, as Max jumps about through time and various time paths, it was never confusing. It reminded me a bit of Dr. Who, just with less aliens and more demons. You can learn some British history and mythology too. Max takes us back to first century Britain, to battles with Romans, Celts, Saxons and even Vikings. He experiences life in an alternate reality, when the past has changed to create a new possible future. He even ventures into the Otherworld, an old Celtic myth, where he meets a range of creatures, including faeries and giants, and humans living their second life. I am glad that I wasn’t reading this book aloud, as my pronunciation of Welsh and Old Celtic names and words is rather woeful, but it did add authenticity to the story.

Due to the time travelling, we actually get to meet a few different versions of some of the characters, including Max’s parents. We only get the one Max though, who I came to like immensely. He really grows as a character throughout the story, and we get to see his weaknesses and his strengths, as well as his doubts and his resolve. Max is no ordinary teenager, even before he discovers he is a Time Traveller. He is shy and awkward, and so very lonely, but moving to Ham Hill and discovering the family secrets really opens up a new world for him. His friend, Myvi, is a lovely girl too, quite encouraging and compassionate. She complemented Max wonderfully, and it was nice that they were friends without any complications of a romantic relationship. All of the characters were well developed and described, even the evil ones, and there were a couple of quite dislikable characters!

Suitable for upper primary school students and upwards, it is also a fantastic read for adults. I loved this book, and I’m very excited that there is more to come in this series.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Book Week 2015

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Book Week was last week and the girls dressed up for a parade at school. They both took a long time to decide on who they wanted to dress up as this year. There were various fairies to consider, Grug, the witch from Room on the Broom, Thelma the Unicorn…. Finally A decided to be Lauren the Puppy Fairy from the Rainbow Magic Fairy books by Daisy Meadows, and L chose to be Esau from Esau the Paw by Chris Gurney and John Bennett.

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A as Lauren the Puppy Fairy.

A’s costume was easy. We just went through her drawers and came up with some pink cord pants, pink shoes, a pink singlet and pink fairy wings from the dress up box and she was done. She used a pink pencil with a gem on the end of it for a wand, and took one of her toy puppies along too.

L's cat tail.

L’s cat tail.

L’s costume needed a bit more work. Esau is a very furry cat that needs to be shaved because his fur becomes matted. L vacillated between wanting to be Esau prior to the shaving, directly after or when the fur was beginning to grow back. She eventually decided on the latter, wearing grey shorts and a furry hoodie with joggers. I made her a skinny grey tail with a big fluffy end from yarn, and used the same yarn to create a headband with fluffy, grey cat ears on it. I attached a loop of thick elastic to the tail so that L could wear it around her waist comfortably. To finish her outfit, we used face crayons to give her face more of a catty feel.

They both had a fun time at the parade. We like dressing up for Book Week!

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L as Esau the Paw.

Googa Nark: A Great Adventure by Brian Moos

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Googa Nark Book CoverGooga Nark: A Great Adventure by Brian Moos, e-book, 139 pages, published in 2014.

It has been quite a number of years since I first fell into the world created by J.R.R. Tolkein, but as I began Googa Nark, that is what I was reminded of. The old man, Quibby, comes to tell our hero, Googa Nark, about a quest that he must undertake for the sake of the land and all the creatures in it. And he should set off with the group of companions waiting outside his house immediately. It made me think of reading by torchlight under the covers after bedtime as a child, where one can truly immerse themselves in a fantasy world, such as that of Googa Nark. Lands with strange names and features, odd creatures and plants, but not all that dissimilar to our own world really. There are forests and plains, valleys, mountains and streams, and across all of these, Googa Nark must venture to rescue the princess.

There are many strange words and names in this story, and the author has supplied a very handy glossary at the end of the story to help the reader remember what everything is. It was great to be able to click on the new word and be taken to the glossary and then be taken back to my place in the book. This is a benefit of e-books that I hadn’t much experienced before. I enjoyed so many of these unusual words, but I think there is something so perfect about the word “kanarful” that I might just have to work it into my everyday vocabulary! The only downsize to the bizarre names was my woeful pronunciation whilst reading aloud to my daughter.

The pace was quick, and the plot exciting. Everything flowed nicely as we followed Googa Nark along on his quest. I loved the way that the narrator inserted himself into the story, adding bits here and there. The advice to the kids reading the story was great, like getting parental permission for vine swinging, or not asking too many questions. This feature added to my enjoyment of the story, and made it more like being told the story rather than reading it.

The characters and landscapes were well described and easy to imagine. I liked most of the characters (except the bad ones, like the Booloorg Pirates). Googa Nark really is the perfect hero; strong, intelligent, brave, polite, loyal, modest… the list of compliments could go on for some time!  He wondered at the amazing things he encountered, and was grateful for all the help he acquired along the way, making some very good friends. I immediately took to the Crunzy Dragon, what a character! He is huge, hearty and peppers his speech with outbursts of “huh!”. He would be ferocious to anyone who did not know him, but to Googa Nark, he is gentle and protective. I think it would be most useful to be able to sneeze and make copies of myself, as Naabalaak Aak does! I would get so much more done 🙂 I also liked the way that 47 could multiply himself, he karnafuls (oh, I love that word!). What a world of fantastical creatures and incredible lands. I’d love to explore more of this world, and the creatures within more deeply.

Googa Nark is an engaging adventure through a wondrous world to save a princess. There are a handful of battle scenes, but nothing too graphic, and it uses appropriate language for children. Perfect for middle to upper primary school students to read for themselves, Googa Nark is also a wonderful tale to share with younger children. The story ended too soon though, but with a hint that there might be more adventures for Googa Nark to come!

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

Dragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt

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dragonsfuturecoverDragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt, young adult e-book, published by Booktrope Publishing, due for release 10th August 2015.

During their tenth winter, twins Ruskya and Duskya are chosen to become dragon riders. They leave their home to live in the dragon riders’ colony, learning to communicate, care for and ride their dragons. Fifteen years on, both twins have become talented riders under the guidance of their father-like mentor Glendyn. However, the dragon population is in danger. The younger dragons aren’t pairing up to mate, and the supply of eggs is dwindling. Without new hatchlings the future of the colony is uncertain. Suddenly a dragon rider from a different and hitherto unknown colony appears in the nearby village. Dragon attacks begin and innocent people are injured and killed. Ruskya must defend the colony and the village, with the help of his dragon, Wyeth, and his family and friends. The invaders are powerful and battle-ready, but what is it that they want?

The first in an exciting new series, Dragon’s Future is an enjoyable and intricate story full of magic and action. I love stories about dragons, I think they are fascinating creatures, especially the friendly ones! This book hit the spot, and I flew through it. It was engaging and entertaining, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

The characters had their back stories told slowly, with the past nicely balanced with the present, creating rich character profiles. I felt like I came to know them, especially Ruskya, Carryl and Kyn. Loyalty, trust, friendship and courage are all evident amongst the riders and villagers. They worked as a community to face the adversity that had befallen them, it took strength and sacrifice, but they rose to the challenge. The dragons also had such individual and appealing personalities, beyond just being the dragon attached to a certain rider. I enjoyed the way they communicate and bond with their riders. Alternatively, the turquoise rider was arrogant and power hungry, delighting in the pain of others, an excellent nemesis for Ruskya. Kyle was also highly dislikable, partly for his cruelty, and partly because I found him incredibly annoying and rather stupid.

At first I had trouble connecting the dragon with the right dragon rider, as the dragons’ names are all very similar. I soon worked it out though, I mostly kept getting Wylen and Wyden confused. I liked the names given to the dragons and the people, but as I really like the letter ‘y’, perhaps I am a little biased. The names of most of the characters contain the letter ‘y’, but it didn’t make them difficult to pronounce. I thought it gave the story a sense of community and tradition.

The landscape in which the story is set is well constructed, with vivid descriptions of the village, dragon colony and their surrounds, making it easy to step into this new world. The vast canyons, and sandy desert seemed like it should be inhospitable, but the people made it homely and welcoming. It is reminiscent of a time gone by, before technology, when communities were small and tight-knit, when magic was still possible. It is a great place to escape to.

A wonderfully complex fantasy, Dragon’s Future is suitable for upper primary school through to high school students. Many adults will also enjoy this story. Dragon’s Future is available for pre-order on Amazon right now, and will be released on the 10th August 2015, with its sequel coming later in the year.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

 

Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

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IMG_4642Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey, hardback picture book, published by Scholastic Australia in 2015.

Thelma is a small pony with big dreams. She dreams of being a unicorn, and when the opportunity for change presents itself, she takes advantage of it. She becomes Thelma the Unicorn, living an exciting and adoring fan-filled life, but something is missing.

A beautiful picture book suitable for preschool and lower primary school children, Thelma the Unicorn is about just being yourself because that’s the best thing you can be. Your real friends will accept you just as you are, imperfections and all. It takes Thelma a little while to discover this, as she finds that pretending to be something that she is not isn’t easy, and it isn’t necessarily fulfilling either.

My kindergartner daughter initially picked this book out because it has a pink unicorn on the front with sparkly glitter! Now she wants to read it because she likes the story, and she likes Thelma. It rhymes too, which is great for reading aloud and sharing, and the illustrations are lovely. I particularly like the truck driver of the truck carrying the pink paint and glitter, and my daughter likes Thelma on the red carpet. An amusing read and re-read!

 

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

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The Twilight Saga is composed of four sequential books exploring the interaction of vampires, werewolves and humans through the eyes of a clumsy, stubborn and rather naive teenage girl. I think this series would appeal to teenagers and adults interested in vampires and the supernatural, or those just looking for something a bit different in the romance line. It follows a fairly predictable course of girl meets boy, they fall in love, they aim to live happily ever after, but I enjoyed the supernatural complications of this story.

 

IMG_4633Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, young adult paperback, 434 pages, published by Atom in 2006, this edition published by Atom in 2007.

In the first book of the Twilight Saga, we are introduced to Bella, an ordinary, though somewhat clumsy teenager. She has moved from the warmth of Phoenix to the constantly overcast and drizzly town of Forks, where her father is Police Chief Swan. During her first day at her new school her eyes are drawn to five of the most beautiful teenagers she has ever seen, one of which is her biology lab partner, Edward Cullen. He seems to take an instant dislike to Bella, but she is intrigued, and soon becomes obsessed with him. Discovering that he and his family are vampires doesn’t deter Bella from dating Edward. However, she soon finds that not all vampires are as nice as the Cullens, as she is chased from Forks by a vampire that would like to eat her for dinner.

 

IMG_4641New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, young adult paperback, 497 pages, published by Little, Brown and Company in 2006, this edition published by Atom in 2007.

In the second installment of the Twilight Saga, Bella attends a birthday party at the Cullen’s house that goes dreadfully wrong, resulting in Bella being injured and almost attacked by Edward’s brother, Jasper. When Edward fails to convince Bella of the risks of dating a vampire, he leaves her instead. Bella is destroyed, and spends several months surviving, but forgetting to live, totally consumed by the hole in her chest that Edward’s departure has left her. In an attempt to help her overcome her depression, her father encourages her to spend time with her friends, especially an old family friend, Jacob Black. Bella finds it easy to be with Jacob, and soon they are spending large quantities of time together. Bella is again devastated when Jacob stops talking to her and stays away. Jacob is keeping a secret from her, but why, and what could be so shameful he can’t share it with her?

 

IMG_4637Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer, young adult paperback, 559 pages, published by Little, Brown and Company in 2007, this edition published by Atom in 2008.

This third book in the Twilight Saga, sees Bella wondering how to have both Edward and Jacob in her life without antagonising the ancient tensions between the vampires and the werewolves. This is complicated by a string of disappearances and deaths in nearby Seattle that might spill over to hurt the Cullens. It appears to be the work of a gang of violent and uncontrollable newborn vampires, but who is creating them and why? Meanwhile Bella is preparing for her high school graduation, and the issue of whether to stay human or allow Carlisle to change her, as Edward refuses to do so until Bella marries him.

 

 

IMG_4636Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, young adult paperback, 702 pages, published by Atom in 2008.

In the final chapter of the Twilight Saga, Bella is still human, and preparing for her life with Edward. They decide to consummate their marriage on their honeymoon, even though Edward thinks he may hurt Bella in the process. The product of such a liaison is a surprise to them both, and may kill Bella or lead to her transformation into a vampire. To Bella it is her baby, but is it really a monster, an abomination that she carries? The child will change all their lives, including Jacob’s, and will bring conflict and danger close to home. The vampires and wolves need an alliance to survive, but still they may not be able to better their enemy, and Alice and Jasper have abandoned them to their fate. Is this the end of the Cullen family?

 

This series reminded me a lot of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, though Twilight is definitely the junior version, much more suitable for high school students. Twilight contains some violence and sex, but essentially it is a love story. Love between a vampire and a human was bound to be fraught with issues, but Bella and Edward are so devoted to each other, that they will fight hard to stay together. Jacob’s love for Bella complicates matters, and I actually hoped for a lot of the story that Jacob would triumph and win Bella over, as she obviously loves him too. Perhaps I just prefer the idea of spending a mortal life with a warm and loving werewolf, than an eternity with the constant thirst for blood as a vampire, even if it is for love!

I found Edward to be somewhat dislikable, with his controlling ways, and his tendency to keep secrets from Bella in the guise of protecting her. This makes their relationship uneven, and I think truth is always better, so that decisions can be made together. Edward is rather resistant to this idea, and even goes to the lengths of having his sister kidnap Bella and keep her hostage while is is off on a hunting trip. Protection is one thing, but such overt control dismayed me, along with her inability to be angry with him when he returned. I also found him to be arrogant and smug. His attitude improved through the story, but I had already formed a dislike for him, while championing Jacob. Though Jacob has his own problems, with his adjustment to discovering his werewolf side, and the whole ‘mortal enemies’ thing with the vampires, he really just wants Bella to be happy. He loves and respects her, and will be there for her, even when it’s not in his best interests. I liked his fierce devotion and his honesty with Bella. I felt like he deserved to have Bella’s whole love in return. This story made me think of that saying ‘nice guys finish last’.

Bella is a complicated character. In some ways she is strong, when accepting that she has fallen for a vampire, and that her best friend is a werewolf. Yet, then she shows a weakness by being unable to live when Edward leaves her, and just forgives him easily despite how his actions have hurt her. I know we should all forgive, especially those that we love, but I wanted her to be a bit stronger in making him understand how his actions were inappropriate, and how they made her feel. Then I remember that she is only eighteen for most of the story, and she has little in the way of experience in relationships. I also found her intense desire to become a vampire baffling, when it would mean leaving her parents behind, whom she loves and is close to. I was pleased that by the end of the story she had become more than just Edward’s girl, as she discovers her own identity and her own strengths.

This series is not high brow literature, but they are entertaining and I found them to be an engaging read. The plot was somewhat predictable, though fairly well developed. My biggest complaint was that I got a bit tired of hearing about how beautiful and perfect Edward is! I was also a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more action of the vampire fighting kind, especially in Breaking Dawn. There was a lot about sexual desire and allusions to sex, but no actual sex scenes, which surprised me. The whole series was actually pretty clean with no foul language and no explicit scenes, just innuendo and plenty of kissing. Along with the dearth of vivid vampire killing, this does make it better for younger readers. Overall the Twilight Saga is a likable series of books to relax with.

 

 

The Candlestick Dragon by Melanie Ifield

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IMG_4407The Candlestick Dragon by Melanie Ifield, paperback novel, 194 pages, published by Melanie Ifield in 2013.

Daniel is short for his age, wears glasses, and is constantly bullied at school. He never expects to experience adventure outside of a book, he can’t even swim, and he’s not very fond of physical activity anyway. Yet a simple excursion to the recycling centre with his mother, Darling, changes Daniel’s whole world. He brings home a candlestick with a statue of a dragon clinging to it, but it is no ordinary candlestick! The dragon blinks his eyes, shakes off his stoney exterior and speaks to Daniel. He is Nilofar, a small dragon, roughly the size of a cat, and he is on a mission, sent from his homeland, Novarmere, through a gateway portal to Earth. Adventure is at hand, with magic, wizards, a young princess, brave warriors and terrifying creatures that Daniel could never have imagined.

I enjoyed this fantasy adventure story, which was exciting, well written, and contained interesting and well described characters and landscapes. I particularly liked Nilofar. As a child I would have loved to have discovered a friendly dragon that was small enough to sit on my shoulder, wrapping his tail around me and chuckling smokey bursts about my head! Really, I would still like a friend like this! Cute and brave, Nilofar was my favourite character, though all the characters were interesting, and I came to feel rather protective of Daniel. Rishana’s attitude felt very true to form for a young teenage princess with so much power at her fingertips, I liked her vacillation between pouty teenager and easygoing comrade. We were able to see her in her role as the confident Princess of Novarmere, as well as the young and inexperienced girl that she actually is. And their immediate enemy, the evil wizard Rullin, was suitably evil, cunning and boastful.

Most suitable for middle primary school through to lower high school students, The Candlestick Dragon is still a good read for adults too. Some younger readers may find some of the action and the mythical creatures a little frightening. There is some fighting and death, though I didn’t feel that it was overly graphic. I am happy for my third grader to read this book, and will be encouraging her to do so.

I received The Candlestick Dragon for free through Goodreads First Reads. It is the first book in the Chronicles of Novarmere: Dark Wizard Quartet. The second book hasn’t been released yet, but I am very keen to read it and follow Daniel’s next adventure.

Snowman Costume

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IMG_2845Most people with younger kids have probably heard of a little Disney flick called “Frozen”… At some point your child may have been invited to a “Frozen” themed birthday party, or insisted on having one themselves. For most young girls this is a small matter of putting on a store-bought Queen Elsa or Princess Anna dress and popping along to the party.

When our family was invited along to a recent “Frozen” party, A was set, as she already had costumes. L thought about going as Olaf the snowman (whom she loves) or perhaps as Sven the reindeer, but settled on me finding her an Anna or Elsa dress. Thus, on the morning of the party, I had two little girls going as Princess Anna. About an hour before the party was supposed to start, L suddenly decided she didn’t want to go as Anna, she would much prefer to be Olaf!

Couldn’t she have mentioned this the week before? Or even the night before? Of course not, and now with an hour to go, if she doesn’t go as Olaf, it will be the worst day ever…sigh… Can I just take a moment to curse the merchandisers for not producing Olaf (or Sven) costumes? A last minute dash to the store might have been manageable, but instead I was faced with a likely meltdown from a child suffering from generalised anxiety, which could lead to a late arrival or complete failure to attend the party, as well as many tears and screams, and much patient coaching of relaxation and calming techniques masking irritation for the tantrum, and a deep sadness for my child. Averting the crisis is always easier than settling her, so I quickly put on my creative solutions hat and dashed off to the craft drawers for supplies.

A carrot nose.

A carrot nose.

The easiest and most obvious place to start to turn my child into Olaf, was to give her a nice carrot nose. She wanted to strap a real carrot to her face, but quickly realised that it would be too heavy. Instead, I used a square of orange paper rolled around to form a cone, and tape to secure it. We added a piece of white paper to the carrot nose to simulate Olaf’s big front teeth.

A tooth and some air holes.

A tooth and some air holes.

Elastic was used to keep the little mask on L’s face, and a couple of breathing holes were made on the underside of the nose for a more comfortable wear.

Black buttons.

Black buttons.

While I formed some coal buttons out of black tissue paper circles, L went to her room to find some white clothes. She came back with some long white shorts and a plain white singlet. These clothes were perfect. I attached the buttons to the front of her singlet with double-sided tape.

Tissue paper folded back on itself and taped to form a button.

Tissue paper folded back on itself and taped to form a button.

Olaf has big black eyebrows and twig hair. I thought I could do something with black pipe cleaners (chenille sticks), but wasn’t sure what to attach them to. L suggested using a swimming cap, which was a great idea, except that all our swimming caps are blue. After wracking my brain for several minutes I went to search through the drawers looking for inspiration. I found a soft knit belly band from when I was pregnant with Baby T. I fastened this around L’s head, scrunching the excess band into a hairband, and then smoothing the front back over her head. To this I attached two small pieces of pipe cleaners above her eyes as eyebrows with double-sided tape. We used several pieces of pipe cleaner to fashion his twiggy hair, as close to the picture of Olaf as we could get. Taping this to the top of L’s head in a way that stuck up was the hardest piece of the costume, and if I’d had more time, I would have liked to stitch it down, but we were plumb out. Luckily L really liked the costume and we got off to the party in time, and had plenty of fun.

My little Olaf ready for the party.

My little Olaf ready for the party.