Review Blog

Apr 03 2020

Monty's Island: Scary Mary and the Stripe Spell by Emily Rodda

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Illus. by Lucinda Gifford. Allen and Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760529857. 176pp.
(Age: 6-9) Highly recommended. Emily Rodda always writes with flair and understanding of what children will like. This book is for younger readers for whom a little bit of fantasy and magical nonsense is very appealing. Monty and his miscellaneous 'lucky-dip' collection of animal and human companions live on a rather unusual island. They beach-comb for treasures, avoid the local marauding pirate - Scary Mary, practise magical tricks, laugh with (and at) each other and visit the only sign of human habitation - the Cafe, run by Marigold. An unexpected find on the beach leads to a magical and stripy transformation of all that they see, just before the arrival of Scary Mary's pirate ship with her crew of misfits. The island has some far-fetched creatures including the Argue birds, scatterworms, jinglebees and the Hairy Horrible, all of whom have a part to play in the protection of the island from the destructive talents of the Pirate crew.
This is just a light-hearted and fun adventure for young readers who have moved to independent reading. With characters introduced with a visual introduction by the illustrator with her appealing comic cartoon-like illustrations, the book launches into the not-quite-normal world of Monty's Island. Launching straight into the text of Chapter 1 without spending time getting to know the characters from the visual introduction is not wise, but it does not take long to work out the antics of each of the eccentric island inhabitants. As the magical and comedic adventure progresses, the fun continues in spades (you need a spade to dig up the treasure, don't you?!)
Definitely to be recommended for young readers who need a bit of deserted island escapism. This is book one, with more to come, so we will be able to keep recommending more from this acclaimed author. Themes: Pirates; Magic; Treasure; Fantasy; Deserted Island; Friendship.
Carolyn Hull

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