The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
As a Librarian “The Forbidden Library” naturally appealed to me. This is certainly a fantasy story. The main character Alice is facing rough times, when her father disappears. Being sent off to an unknown uncle, her life takes a dramatic turn. She is a brave and clever girl who loves to read, and she knows what’s real and what’s fiction. However this changes when she moves into her uncle’s huge manor with a mysterious building called the Library. She soon realises that his off-limits Library holds mystical secrets, and fiction suddenly becomes real with a talking cat and an evil-looking fairy. She soon finds out that she is destined to become a ‘Reader’ - someone who can enter into the world of books.
The book leads the readers on an unbelievable adventure and you are drawn in completely from the beginning. Fans of Inkheart will find this book a perfect read and it appeals mostly to children aged 9 and up. Alice is wonderfully adventurous as well as sensible, which I hope will inspire and delight many children.
The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman
This is a magical adventure story. Lila wants to be a firework-maker, but no one believes she can. So she sets off on a quest to obtain the royal sulfur from the Fire Fiend in the volcano of Mount Merapi. Not knowing that she needs special protection, she sets out alone. Her friends race after her, but will they reach her in time? A story that not only tells of courage and is descriptively lyrical, but also has a talking elephant, a band of pirates and a lake goddess who all make an appearance. Children will be entranced by the descriptions of the final battle of the fireworks and will laugh at the clumsy antics of Rambashi and his merry band of singing, cooking pirates.
Philip Pullman is an established author, best known for his fantasy trilogy The Dark Materials and was named by the Times as one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945. This book provides an easy introduction to the author but can be enjoyed by children (and adults) of any age. The courage of Lila and her friendships in the book are uplifting and her solution to the quest may provoke some serious thoughts.
- Charlotte Jessen, Primary Librarian