Monday, 1 January 2018

Emma Carroll - Sky Chasers - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books (Chicken House)

A encounter with a boy dangling from the sky changes pickpocket Magpie's life forever. Like her, the boy dreams of flying over the rooftops of Paris. His family, the Montgolfiers, are desperate to be first to discover the secret of flight. Together with Pierre, Magpie is soon caught up in a world of inflatable bloomers, spies and a trio of unruly animals in a race to be the first to fly a hot air balloon - in front of the King and Queen of France.

Orphan Magpie can’t believe her eyes when she sees a boy swept off his feet by a kite … or something that twists and dances in the wind. She goes to his rescue only to find herself dangling in the sky. The world looks so different from on high and suddenly Magpie knows what she wants – to be the first to fly in a balloon above the King and Queen of France ...

Welcome, 2018. What literary delights will it have in store for you? My last post highlighted Chicken House Books and the handful of wonderful titles that have been produced by the golden chicken for the start of this year. Emma Carroll's 'Sky Chaser' is an example of one of these books. Hatching into magical existence, it will appeal to the middle-grade fantasy audience or lovers of historically inspired fiction.

This book is based on the winning idea submitted by Neal Jackson as part of the annual The Big Idea Competition. The story takes flight through the expert hands of Emma Carroll, a fantastic author of some really brilliant books in my opinion. The fantastic book cover has been produced by David Litchfield, whom I recently highlighted as my favourite illustrator of 2017. 

The story is based on the true story of the first hot air balloon flight over Paris in the eighteenth century. Most of the facts are in keeping with historical records of this time. The story swoops and seamlessly blends into a fantasy world that fits with this time period. It is well-researched and fantastically balanced with the background story. The setting, some of the characters and the time period are also factual and make for a hidden educational journey.

Emma Carroll has a lovely way of blending the narrative to fit the occasion. She wrote the story from the perspective of the French, which I really appreciated and felt that it made the story so much better. You will encounter many colourful characters through this family adventure full of scrapes and bumps as well as the occasional animal scrape, which will make you laugh. It is a story fuelled by friendship, hopes and everlasting dreams.

It is a great race against time in this all-out action adventure. It will transport readers back in time to when balloon flights were a mystical idea that held so many people captivated. I would truly recommend this book - an easy read in just one sitting. It really is a breath of fresh air that will have you soaring through the fantasy thermals of history and beyond. A great start to the new year.

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