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Thursday, April 21, 2011


The land where the word m - - - c is forbidden

On Tuesday night I went with daughter-in-law Michelle and grandsons Matthew (11) and Joshua (8) to the Launch of Barbara Else's enchanting new children's book, The Travelling Restaurant.

Huge excitement from both the boys and also their mother, for none of them had been to a Launch before.  Well, the author, the publishers (Gecko Press) and the wonderful Children's Book Shop of Kilbirnie, Wellington, did them proud.  They loved their new experience, and are currently reading the book. 

I know they will love that, too.   Not only is it a romping tale in the oldfashioned rollicking bedtime-tale tradition, but it is jampacked with memorable characters.  Jasper, officially ten years old (but 12 in reality), is the Hero, though I have to admit that I feel a sneaky affection for the grumpy Dr. Rocket, skipper of the good ship Travelling Restaurant, which serves food to ravenous adults and picky toddlers anywhere  the ship is moored.  And then there is Polly, who lays aloft to the highest hamper, whatever the weather, green boots and all ...

The truly villainous villainess, Lady Gall, is another treasure.  She might be just the Provisional Monarch of Fontania, but she is determined to make the position Permanent (with the help of her pirates), and the only boy who stands in the way is our Hero (with the help of his flamboyant friends). 

How does he do it? 

And how do Polly, Dr. Rocket and Jasper manage to feed those picky toddlers? 

Read the book, and find out. Or read it for the puckish humor. There are stacks of jokes for all ages.  There will be times when the children laugh, and the adults wonder why, and other times when the adults laugh, and the children wonder why. 

As a maritime buff, I enjoyed my own secret laughs, for this book also pokes gentle fun at the Romance of Sail.  Lady Gall's flagship, Excellent Hound, with its five masts and three funnels, got an appreciative giggle from me, as did the Travelling Restaurant itself.  What its rig might have been like is as mysterious as its motive power, but like the book, it is terrific.

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