New children’s novel ‘Merlin and Guinevere’ now available! Reviewers wanted!

My first children’s novel, titled Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting, is now available in both paperback and ebook editions! Please follow this link and start your adventure with the young sorcerer Merlin.

Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting

Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting

I am currently looking for anyone interested in reading and reviewing ‘Merlin’. I am extremely proud of this novel and want to share it with as wide an audience as possible; having positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads will help make it easier for others to find. If you are interested in children’s fiction, featuring magic, adventure and mystery, then please leave a comment, and I will be in touch with your free digital edition!

The Wizard of Oz

The film version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz has been cited as an influence by authors as prolific as Salman Rushdie and continues to be celebrated the world over as a cinematic classic. I haven’t watched the film since I was Toto-sized, but its brightness and vivacity have stayed with me over the years. The original children’s book, I was pleased to discover, is equally as colourful as its film counterpart.

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Baum’s novel was a bestseller following its release in 1900 and its popularity has never faded. One potential reason for its enduring success is the balance Baum strikes between traditional fairy tale moralism and mad, modern, multicoloured magic. On the one hand, The Wizard of Oz has the tightly cyclical structure of a traditional children’s story: characters are continually faced with tests and through courage, ingenuity and teamwork, their assailants are overpowered. The moral presented through the adventures of Dorothy and her companions is a moving one: only you have the power to change yourself; anyone who claims to be able to wave a magic wand and fix your problems is an instant is a fraud. This moral isn’t force-fed to the reader, and perhaps wields greater power for that very reason. The traditional structure of the story is disguised by Baum’s astounding creativity; images like the stocking-clad feet of the squashed witch and the army of flying monkeys are products of a truly childlike imagination.

Winter’s Tale

A great city is nothing more than a portrait of itself, and yet when all is said and done, its arsenals of scenes and images are part of a deeply moving plan. As a book in which to read this plan, New York is unsurpassed. For the whole world has poured its heart into the city by the Palisades, and made it far better than it ever had any right to be.

Winter’s Tale, Mark Helprin

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Top Five Children’s Books

5. Matilda, Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s writing really has no equal: Matilda remains one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. His observations about the idiosyncrasies of parents are impressively acute, and while I don’t entirely agree with his opposition to TV, which seems like an oddly conservative position for an otherwise progressive writer, Matilda is a terrifically inspiring champion of the power of books.

4. The Worst Witch, Jill Murphy

Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch series was released long before Potter and must have influenced Rowling’s writing: both are set in in ancient castles serving as magical academies. I used to listen to The Worst Witch as an audio tape when I was too young to read it myself, and as a result an appreciation for stories featuring witchcraft has been embedded into my subconscious. Proof: three entries on this Top 5 list involve magic.

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3. Witch Week, Dianne Wynne Jones

Witch Week is actually the third of seven Chrestomanci books, but true to form I started in the middle of the series. This installment takes place in a universe where magic is outlawed and punishable by death, yet insists on popping out of people at somewhat inconvenient moments. Witch Week features an intelligent and complex plot, with well-captured, imperfect characters, and while I’d recommend the Chrestomanci series as a whole, Witch Week is definitely worth opening as a stand-alone read.

2. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials is another fantasy series which is more strictly Young Adult than a children’s series, though, like the greatest of animated films for children, it can be enjoyed at any age and appreciated on different levels. Simultaneously an attempt to undermine the questionable certainties of Paradise Lost and a courageous exploration of the nature of sin, Pullman’s novels are among the most accomplished YA series that I’ve encountered.

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1. Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling

The #1 spot has to go to Harry Potter: even more than ten years later, it’s still a uniquely immersive experience, at once both familiar and constantly surprising. Without being by any means ‘preachy’, the series conveys a great humanistic message about love and equality through the analogy of disenfranchised magical creatures and the capacity of a pure heart to combat the dark arts.

What are your childhood favourites?

Luckdragons

Luckdragons are among the strangest animals in Fantastica. They bear no resemblance to ordinary dragons, which look like loathsome snakes and live in deep caves, diffusing a noxious stench and guarding some real or imaginary treasure. Such spawn of chaos are usually wicked or ill-tempered, they have batlike wings with which they can rise clumsily and noisily into the air, and they spew fire and smoke. Luckdragons are creatures of air, warmth and pure joy. Despite their great size, they are as light as a summer cloud, and consequently need no wings for flying.

The Neverending Story, Michael Ende

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Some kinds of magic

‘Certainly,’ said Voldemort, and his eyes seemed to burn red. ‘I have experimented; I have pushed the boundaries of magic further, perhaps, than they have ever been pushed -‘
‘Of some kinds of magic,’ Dumbledore corrected him quietly. ‘Of some. Of others, you remain…forgive me…woefully ignorant.’
For the first time, Voldemort smiled. It was a taut leer, an evil thing, more threatening than a look of rage.
‘The old argument,’ he said softly. ‘But nothing I have seen in the world has supported your famous pronouncements that love is more powerful than my kind of magic, Dumbledore.’
‘Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places,’ suggested Dumbledore.

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