Chapter Books - Adventure Feed

Jane on Her Own: A Catwings Tale by Ursula K Le Guin and S.D. Schindler

Jane on her ownOrchard Books, NY, 1999

Hardback, 42 pages

ISBN: 978-0-5313-3133-0

Suggested reading age: 5+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

The queen of fantasy, Ursula K Le Guin has written a gorgeous tale for younger readers.  Complete with colour illustrations by S.D. Schindler, this is a lovely tale about being different and finding your place in spite of the difficulties and dangers that being different can create.  Jane, the heroine of the story is a cat with wings who longs to venture out into the wider world, in spite of all the dangers.  She longs for adventure and new friends.

Other titles in this series: Catwings, Catwings Return, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings

Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge

Fly By Night

Macmillan Children's Books, London, 2006

Paperback, 448 pages

ISBN: 978-0-3304-1826-3

Suggested reading age: 14+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

 This book is a rare treat, filled with jewel like prose and a cracking tale.  I was torn between savouring every word and racing ahead see what happened next.  Fly By Night is the tale of young Mosca Mye, an orphan who burns down her uncle's mill and runs away with a mysterious stranger who has a way with words.  She lives in a world where every day belongs to a Beloved.  If you are lucky enough to be born on the day of Goodman Boniface you are a child of the sun and can be called Auroa or Solina.  If, however, you are born on the day sacred to Goodman Palpitattle, He Who Keeps Flies out of Jams and Butterchurns you are named after an insect.  And that is how Mosca was named.

Ms Hardinge has created a rich, believable and fresh world.  Her imagination is incredible and the plot kept me guessing to the very end.  I didn't want the story to end but had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen to Mosca next.   I only hope that Frances Hardinge has written more books for me to devour and savour.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallow and AmazonsJonathan Cape Ltd, London, 1987

Hardcover, 384 pages

ISBN: 9780224606318

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Swallows and Amazons is a classic of English literature in the grand old adventure style.  You know the books - ones where the kids go off on amazing adventures with nary an adult in sight.  The difference with the Swallows and Amazons series of books, however, is that they are eminently believable.  The adventures are thrilling and daring, filled with imagination but not so far-fetched that they appear ludicrous or unbelievable.  A family friend lent me this book when I was twelve and I gobbled it up, nautical terms and all.  Learning to sail a boat is still on my bucket list!

In Swallows and Amazons, the first book in the series, we meet Susan, John, Titty and Roger who are on holidays at Dixon's farm with their mother and baby sister.  Their father is away in the navy and they are all keen sailors. They manage to convince their mother to let them camp out on an island in the river.  They use their boat, the Swallow, to ferry across to the island their tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and food.  Fresh supplies are rowed to them daily by the "natives" at the farm.  The story describes how the Swallows meet the Amazons and the adventures they have together.

Older readers will be able to read this book, younger readers may need to have it read to them.  It is quite dense and doesn't talk down.  You may find yourself frantically googling nautical terms to explain them to your curious child!

Other titles in this series - Swallowdale, Winter Holiday, Peter Duck, Secret Water, Coot Club, We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea, The Picts and the Martyrs, The Big Six, Great Northern, Pigeon Post, Missee Lee.