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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is a schoolyard fight, and a story is told in which a man mutilates horses with a sword.
Kids Will Enjoy It
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What's the Story?
When he turns 9, Gwyn's odd grandmother gives him several gifts for his birthday, the first they have celebrated since his sister disappeared four years ago. She says the gifts will help him discover if he has magic powers, like his legendary ancestors, and tells him to give them to the wind. He does, and receives in return a magical spider whose webs open a window into another world. But when he releases an object he was supposed to keep safe, he unleashes an evil power.
Is It Any Good?
Veteran author Jenny Nimmo knows how to write a story that will keep you turning the pages, but by the end you're likely to wonder what it was all about. Fantasies can fly as far off the beaten track as their authors can imagine, but they have to have some internal consistency and rules that are discernible and make sense. Fantasy may not be real, but it has to feel as if it could be. Nothing here makes sense, or has any obvious reason behind it, and the reader is left with only questions.
What is magic about these objects? Why does the wind want them? How does the magic work? What happened to Gwyn's sister, why does she come back, why is she changed, why don't her parents seem to mind, why does she have to return again? What is the deal with the supposed evil power, and how does Gwyn know how to trap it? And on and on. This story is pleasant enough while you're reading it, but deeply unsatisfying by the end. Perhaps the sequels explain some of this, but it's all so nonsensical that it's hard to muster up the will to care. This reads like sloppy, tossed-off work from an author who should know better.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the fantasy world created here. What are the rules? How does magic work? What happened to Gwyn's sister, and why do his parents seem to accept it so easily?
- Author: Jenny Nimmo
- Genre: Fantasy
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Orchard Books
- Publication date: September 1, 2006
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 142
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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