Review Blog

Jun 21 2019

My name is NOT Peaseblossom by Jackie French

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Angus and Robertson, 2019. ISBN: 9781460754788.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Themes: Shakespeare; Love and power; Fairies; Midsummer Night's Dream. Jackie French has written over 100 books, and each one contains its own magic. This book though contains a healthy measure of fairy magic and the essence of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream - a potent and enchanted mixture to entrance the reader. Told from the perspective of Peaseblossom, a servant of the Fairy Queen Titania, with his fairy relative Puck as his guide and mentor, we discover the fairies' perspective of the love stories and lives that are woven in the Shakespearean tale. The characters of Lysander, Demetrius, Helena, Hermia, Hippolyta and Theseus appear, with the rule and authority of Oberon and Titania; but we are also introduced to other participants in the fairy kingdom and the fantasy powers of fairies (including the tooth fairy), selkies, vampires, banshees and other assorted magical creatures that inhabit the world. (Note: even Elvis Presley makes an appearance in this world in the lead-up to Midsummer night! Are you lonesome tonight? and Love me Tender are crooned in the background!)
The essential story of love and power, and freedom and responsibility, is told through the dramatic tale of love when Peaseblossom, posing as Pete, discovers the entrancing Gaela (a selkie) who makes the best pizza in the world. Will the discovery of love create chaos in the controlled fairy world? And should Pete/Peaseblossom defy the rule of the Fairy Queen to pursue the love that he has found for himself?
Even without a prior knowledge of Midsummer night's dream, this book is accessible for young readers, but the occasional inclusion of a direct quote from the play may confuse some. This book has its own joys and delights, and the inimitable Jackie French has explored and untangled some of the threads of the Shakespearean play in a way that will be enjoyed by both Shakespeare-focused readers and those who have only a passing knowledge of his work. And the world of fairies has a wonderful charisma with time-travel adventures and magical potions, as well as the ability to paint the world with colour!
(The author's notes at the end of the book imply that this is the last of the Shakespearean literary excursions . . . unless of course some fairy dust settles and compels another!)
Carolyn Hull

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