The Magic Place - review
Pure and Simple. Storytelling...
Illustrated with elegance and class...
Chris is a true imaginator, he sees the story, whether from the perspective of being given the clues by an author or here, from within his own rich imagination. This is a simple and yet quite detailed and certainly very emotive tale.
It works on all levels, it's a joy to see and hold as an item, something to marvel at, it draws you to look at the fine lines of impeccably etched artwork, every image has meaning and context and some just literally glow (even though they are B/W!)
You can follow enough of the story more just the pictures they tell you a lot, but then you follow the words alongside or at times ahead or even slightly behind the imagery and suddenly you are transported.
This is a Dickensian tale with added modern ways, the power of the words is of the modern, the setting and themes are of the past.
Children from 6 to 106 will love this book, Clementine is just a darling, she is in an unimaginably horrid place, yet has love and hope in her, he only companion is the enigmatic Gilbert or is it Giblets or is it something else, a sort of touch of Eliot in the naming of cats.
Her only relatives are the cruellest and most grotesque you could imagine, they have dirty secrets and are oblivious to the pain and hardship they inflict on Clementine.
She creates a wonderful invention, a periscope to see her 'Magic Place' she's never seen sunlight or felt the warmth of the sun, all she know sis loneliness, cold, dark and horrid things. She lives in the Great Black City, it feels like every Victorian slum we've ever seen or read.
There is mystery, adventure and intrigue galore. Told with aplomb, the pacing and interjections are wonderful, I love narrators who come inside the book, it always feels special.
I try not to do spoilers as I am so lucky to read before most with the book industry always wanting and needing early reviews and sales setting up, so I will only ever hint at details within any book.
Rufus and Vermilia are brilliant beasts, they are straight out of a Dickensian nightmare, they'd fit in Oliver easily...
We meet a few other interesting characters, who I won't name... but mostly we have Clementine and Gilbert, and a rabbit and soot and such devastating loneliness... there is always those worse of than us, but I do hope that children and indeed parents who read this book get to understand that love and hope are eternal and will always win the day. They are the super power of the down trodden and vulnerable and that means we all can be saved if we believe.
Chris has proven he is as good a storyteller as any established ones we all love, we all knew he could draw/illustrate and that is what makes this book ever more special. It is HIS book, he has gifted a huge part of his time and genius to us now and we must treasure it and hope there is more.
My friend Sally-Anne is a teacher, author, storyteller and much more, her children are lucky they get most of the books I have read and reviewed and often signed, it's a treat to be able to share the magic of books and I hope Hermione is enchanted with this gem and tells her friends and they tell there friends and this book is adopted and loved widely.