Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Please Louise! by Frieda Wishinsky & Marie-Louise Gay

Frieda Wishinsky is one of those wonderful as well as versatile authors and she has another hit on her hands. Having written picture books, juvenile novels, and even biographies, she has recently teamed up with the quirky and equally wonderful Marie-Louise Gay for a gem of a picture book, Please Louise! Anyone with siblings will perfectly understand why Louise drives her big brother Jake crazy. She is always underfoot, invading his room, playing with his toys, bouncing on his bed, and even hanging from his chandelier. When he goes outside, or course Louise follows.

Jake's only escape is closing his eyes to shut Louise out. He wishes his sister were a dog. "A dog wouldn't dance into his room./ A dog wouldn't pound on his door./ A dog wouldn't talk all day." But, Jake panics when he opens his eyes to find his little sister gone. He frantically searches everywhere for her, but instead finds a strange little dog who exuberantly jumps into his arms. Did he turn his little sister into a dog? A contrite Jake wishes again, this time "Please Louise./ Don't be a dog.../Please Louise./ Come Back...Please, Louise./ Be my little sister again,".

Wishinsky's well crafted text deftly sidesteps the sentimentality trap and perfectly paints the frustrations and joys of sibling relationships. It is well matched by Gay's zany pencil and watercolor illustrations which capture Louise's boundless energy and enthusiastic affection for her big brother as well as Jake's pull-your-hair-out frustration.

Once you read Please Louise! you, like me, will be hoping that Wishinsky & Gay have many more projects up their creative sleeves.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley-Archer

For a while now, I have been meaning to pick up The Time Travelers, The First Book of The Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckely-Archer. It has been touted as the new series to fill the gap for Harry Pottter fans, and I wondered how well it would hold up to the comparison. After having read the first in the series, I must admit to being perplexed. Yes, The Time Travelers is a fantasy, and yes it's an adventure story where good and evil are pitted against one another, but that's where the similarities end. The Time Travelers has a strong historical base, and a much less edgy feel to it. It's well written, engaging, and the historical aspect adds an interesting layer of richness to the story that the Harry Potter books lack.

The premise is that Kate, the daughter of an English scientist, and Peter, a visiting acquaintance of her family's, are whisked back in time after an accident with an antigravity machine at her father's lab. The children land (none too gently either) back in the year 1763 where the villainous Tar Man takes off with the machine and their only hope of returning home to their own time. The children are fortunate enough to meet Gideon Seymour, a gentleman who is hiding a dark past. He agrees to help them try to get the machine back. Along the way they meet, highwayman, nobility, famous characters, and even King George III and his queen. They also learn of their ability to "blur" or disappear and rematerialize ghost-like in their own time.

This may not be a Harry Potter substitute, but it is a well-written adventure with colourful characters, surprise twists, and an ending that will leave you wanting more. So, be smart and pick up The Time Thief, Buckley-Archers's second book of The Gideon Trilogy. And if you're lucky, by the time you finish it, she'll have published the third.