Friday 27 August 2010

The Song of the Winns

The Song of the Winns—The Gerander Trilogy book 1 by Frances Watts, illustrations by David Francis (ABC Books)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978 0 7333 2786 5
Reviewed by Jenny Mounfield

Mice Alex, Alice and Alistair have been living with their aunt and uncle since their parents failed to return home from a trip four years ago. Little do they realise this was no ordinary business trip; their parents were, in fact, on a mission to liberate their homeland Gerander, a situation the triplets haven’t a clue about.

When Alistair is snatched from his room one night and finds himself deposited in another country, he is desperate to return home. He meets Tibby Rose, a little ginger mouse just like him. Ginger hair, they will soon learn, is a trait that marks them as Gerandans. It is also a trait that makes them a target of extreme prejudice. And so with lonely Tibby Rose in tow, the two mice embark on a journey that will test each as never before.

Meanwhile back in Smiggins, Alistair’s siblings are about to embark on a journey of their own. Throw into this mix pirates, spies and political skulduggery and what you get is, Stuart Little meets The Wind in the Willows with a splash of George Orwell’s Animal Farm thrown in for good measure.

Given Watts’s editing background, it comes as no surprise that her characterisation and narrative skill are excellent and her plot well-thought out. Francis’s detailed pencil sketches at the beginning of each chapter are the perfect accompaniment, adding just the merest hint of what is to come.

At almost 300 pages, and with language and concepts that lean towards complex, I would recommend this for ambitious readers at the mid to upper end of the 9-14 age range.

Watts is the author of a number of successful titles. Of particular note are her picture books: Kisses for Daddy (illustrations by David Legge), which won a 2006 CBCA Honour Book award and winner of the Eve Powell Award 2008, Parsley Rabbit’s Book About Books (also illustrated by David Legge)

Jenny Mounfield is the author of three novels for kids, her most recent title being: The Ice-cream Man (Ford St). She has been reviewing for Buzz Words since ’06.

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