Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bartlett and the Ice Voyage by Odo Hirsch

I had not heard of author Odo Hirsch until I picked up this tongue-in-cheek quest tale, and I was pleasantly surprised given it's somewhat ho hum cover. His writing style is reminiscent of Roald Dahl and bit like David Walliams. Odo is an Australian born doctor who has worked for Amnesty International and many of his novels have been short-listed for the Children Book Council of Australia Awards. This novel is about a snooty queen who owns seven countries and who is far too busy to leave her home country to visit the others. She constantly receives gifts from the people in these countries but becomes exasperated when the tasty melidrop fruit cannot be delivered before it goes rotten and starts obsessing about it, causing everyone in her kingdom great misery. You see there is no modern fast forms of transport and the tree or its seeds will not grow in her country. Thus the challenge for Bartlett, the famous explorer, is to transport this fruit to The Queen before it turns to mush. Boys may need encouragement to persevere through the first three chapters which focus on The Queen, in order to enjoy the sea adventure of Bartlett, which in fact makes up the majority of the novel.
The soft pencil illustrations by Andrew McLean help bring the characters to life and depict life in the royal court and at sea.

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