Review Blog

Nov 29 2012

Maddy West and the Tongue Taker by Brian Falkner

cover image

Ill. by Donovan Bixley. Walker Books Australia; 2012. ISBN 978192197767.
Know any 8+ readers interested in witches, magic and adventure? The then this is the book to keep them reading. With a ninja, a monkey, a Bulgarian wrestler and a feisty girl with an amazing talent added to the character list they will be looking for more books by Brian Falkner.
Maddy's Mum took her to the doctor when she started speaking Japanese to get her 'fixed'. The doctor found out that she could speak other languages too and really didn't think she needed fixing, indeed he thought she was extraordinary.
After her mother arranges for her to appear on television, where she demonstrates her ability with languages, strange things begin to happen to Maddy. She meets an old man on the train who warns her about dark magic and then a Professor Coateloch calls and convinces Maddy's parents to let her travel with her to Bulgaria to help translate some ancient scrolls. Whilst Maddy is quite excited about the journey she soon discovers that there is more to Professor Coateloch and the ancient scrolls.
Kidnapping, magic spells of great power, an exciting trip up the mountain and a heroic rescue, make for heart stopping conclusion to the story.
The friendship between Kazuki and Maddy is a feature of the story as is the importance of communication, especially as one of the spells, the 'Tongue Taker' of the title, takes away the ability to communicate, a person's language. Maddy's ability to speak and read any language will reaffirm in some children the benefits of being multilingual.
The detailed illustrations by Donovan Bixley add to the drama of the situation. I particularly love the picture of Maddy and Kazuki driving as they are speeding down the mountain.
Sue Keane

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