Review policy

I am very happy to review any novel that fits in with the theme of this blog: novels aimed at 9-14 year olds, preferably with a fantasy/ speculative world setting. However, I will make clear in the review that I was sent the book by the publisher and I will write my honest opinion. Please feel free to contact me via Twitter or Facebook, or fantasticreads at gmail dot com.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Bansi and Nina- two magical stories

I've written recently about how important I think it is that children see themselves represented in books, and how important it is that teachers have books that represent the children in their classes. So with this in mind, I'm really glad to share these books with you this week. They are both about children with Indian heritage, but they are not worthy "issues" novels- a teacher friend of Asian heritage characterises a lot of books featuring British Asian families as "Saris and samosas stories"- they are great fun.


Image: Goodreads.com

Nina and the Travelling Spice Shed by Madhvi Ramani is a lovely book for 6+. Nina's parents are from India, but Nina feels wholly British. She gets a bit fed up with her dad constantly comparing her to Indian children. One day she is late for school, and discovers that all the "good" countries her class are to research for their class project are gone, and she'll have to research India.

Nina is really fed up, and goes to her eccentric aunty's house. There, she is sent to the spice shed in the back garden to get some turmeric, when she discovers that the shed is in fact a travelling shed, which whisks her off to India! Here, Nina learns about the mystic sadhus in the Himalayas, about Bollywood in Mumbai and about the tigers of West Bengal!

This is a delightful book for children developing the stamina to read chapter books. It's funny and enjoyable, and great for dispelling stereotypes about India. I can imagine that children of Indian heritage would really enjoy reading about a girl like them, but also children of other heritages would enjoy it too.


Image: hive.co.uk

Bansi O'Hara and the Bloodline Prophesy by John Dougherty (author, poet, songwriter, library defender and all round Good Egg)- Bansi O'Hara is on her way with her Irish father and Indian mother to visit her Granny O'Hara in Ireland. She's really looking forward to her first trip to Ireland. Little does she know that her visit is also being anticipated by some magical peoples in Ireland. Bansi is descended from magical beings on both sides of her family, and engineering her presence in the magical land of Tir Na N'Og would fulfil a prophesy bringing incredible power for whoever brings her there. So Pogo the Brownie and a shape shifting Puca called Tam are sent by the good Fairy People to protect her, but the Dark Sidhe are seeking to capture her. 

But on Bansi's first night at Granny O'Hara's house, Conn, a boy who can change into a wolf, crashes through the bedroom window, trying to capture Bansi. It is Midsummer, when the barriers between the mortal world and Tir Na N'Og are thinned, and the Lord of the Dark Sidhe has sent Conn to bring her to him. Luckily, Bansi doesnt just have Pogo and Tam to look after her. She has Granny O'Hara and her best friend, Nora Mullarkey, to look after her, and speeding around in Nora's Morris Traveller, they set out to prevent the Lord of the Dark Sidhe, before sunset on Midsummer's Eve.

Exciting and hilarious by turns, this is a brilliant book to read aloud to children 7+. I would also use it for guided reading or have it in my book corner for independent reading in school. I think it would be particularly good in a culturally diverse classroom, particularly one with children of mixed heritage. I have already recommended it to a friend whose little cousin is being excluded by friends due to her mixed heritage. A fantastic read. 

(I have posted both these reviews on Goodreads as well. I want as many people as possible to buy these books, including schools and libraries!)

2 comments:

  1. Love the sound of both of these books and are definitely ones I will be getting for school. Thanks for the reviews!

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    1. Thank you! Please let me know what your classes think- I know that these would have been grabbed off the shelves of my classes in North and East London!

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