Family Newsletters
sponsord by
Amazing baby
« Back

Your book reviews

Send in your own review



Abi Elphinstone
Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 9781471173660

Casper lives an orderly life, ruled by his to-do lists and his timetables. He spends more time than he should in lost property baskets hiding from the school bullies but things are about to change dramatically for him and present him with the adventure and excitement that he is sure he neither wants nor needs.

There is something odd going on with the weather - a rash of hurricanes is devastating swathes of Europe and scientists have no explanation. Casper, however, is about to find what is going on when, hiding from the bullies in a grandfather clock, he finds himself hurtled into a strange world that bears no resemblance to his normal life. He also meets Utterly Thankless, inhabitant of this strange world with a great deal to prove to herself, her parents and everyone else.

Utterly is the complete opposite of Casper; disorganised, untidy, headstrong, but together they must unite to tackle the evil that is about to destroy the four kingdoms and thereby Casper's world.

This is the first in The Unmapped Chronicles series, first introduced in the author's World Book Day book, Ever Dark. While readers can begin the series with Rumblestar, those that read Ever Dark first will be rewarded with the full background of the four kingdoms, their role in controlling the weather in the Faraway and the origins of Morg and her ferocious followers, the Midnights.

There is so much to admire in Abi Elphinstone's books. Her imagination in creating whole new worlds with incredible creatures such as the snow trolls, the sun scamps and the absolutely wonderful Zip, the SkySoar9000 balloon (a machine with a mind and heart of its own) is well known from her earlier books and does not disappoint here.

What is just as important, however, is the insight into human emotions and relationships. Casper is not brave and does not even want to be brave but finds the resources to be so when Utterly is in danger. His actions in saving the four kingdoms mean that he may never find his way home but he performs them anyway.

Utterly has a sadness buried deep in her soul which makes her prickly, guarded, defensive and ultimately friendless. Together they form an unlikely bond which helps them both achieve things they never thought they could. The words of Bristlebeard, the snow troll, on friendship and what it does to a person could form the basis of an entire discussion all on their own, as could so many of the themes raised throughout the book.

Elphinstone's writing carries the reader along with confidence and humour through these strange new worlds, full of peril and adventures. This book is a fantastic read for the independent reader as well as a brilliant choice for a class novel with its wealth of ideas to promote discussion and debate. Every primary school library should have some Elphinstone books.

336 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian


Reading Zone logo Family Zone menu Young Adult ChildrensZone SchoolZone Library zone
ReadingZone Book Shop

Book of the week

Meet the Author

THE BOOKWORM by DEBBIE GLIORI is a gorgeous treat of a story about a boy, Max, and his search for the perfect pet. When Max finds a baby worm that seems to be 'just right', little does he know what the worm will grow up into...

Read more