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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Magical Mondays: Review of Opal Moonbaby by Maudie Smith

This marvellous debut has all the magic of classic children's books, yet is bang up to date with a quirky and lively voice.



Author: Maudie Smith 
Title: Opal Moonbaby
Genre: Children's Fantasy
Series: yes (see Smith's website)
Publisher: Orion
Published: Jan 5 2012
Source: kindly provided for review from Orion

Find it at Goodreads or Amazon UK  

The blurb says:
Martha's decided friends are stupid. She never wants another friend. Ever. So when Opal Moonbaby comes along, with her mad silver hair and huge violet eyes, claiming to be an alien, Martha is definitely NOT interested. But Opal isn't the kind of alien who takes no for an answer... Sparkling with originality and charm, this is a heart-warming, hilarious story about friendship.

My verdict: Brilliant story, great characters. Highly recommended for 7+, especially girls.
This warm and quirky book will appeal to many girls, whilst avoiding some of the more obvious girliness that is sometimes seen on the shelves for this age group (and which puts off my 8yo; I'm sure there are others like her).

Martha is a brilliantly written character: easy to relate to and well-rounded. What's impressive and effective about this debut is that the other characters are also efficiently drawn and clearly differentiated. Martha and her brother are good kids, shown through their concern for their mother and for Opal. Opal, of course, steals the show with her enormous personality and all-round craziness. Violet eyes? Silver hair? Lack of regard for rules and authority? How could we fail to fall for her?

The wackiness of Opal's character and the overall unlikeliness of an alien arrival is countered by these characters who behave in realistic and understandable ways, allowing us to suspend disbelief and enter Opal's world. The plot itself is also believable, and Martha's issues with friends will be familiar to many readers. This aspect of the plot is the heart of the story and has a valuable message without being didactic or clumsy.

Overall, I loved the lightness of touch and general humour of this. I'm pleased to see there will be more and know my 8yo will love them. She's a fan of Kes Gray's Daisy chapter books and Joanna Nadin's Penny Dreadful series, and this has a similar kind of warmth and voice (although those series create most of their wackiness through the first-person narration of their colourful main characters, while Opal Moonbaby is told in the third person).

To celebrate the publication of Opal Moonbaby, Maudie Smith is embarking on a blog tour this month and I am thrilled to announce that she will be here at the Hearthfire with a Words on Wednesday post this week, talking about genre.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh how exciting, a blog tour and the book sounds really cool too.

    ReplyDelete

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