Midnight Blue by Pauline Fisk
|Midnight Blue by Pauline Fisk|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: This Smarties Prize-winning fantasy is imaginative and magical and a little bit scary. It's about growing up, about self-knowledge, and about the redeeming power of love. What more could you want?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 250||Date: November 2011|
|Publisher: Pauline Fisk|
|External links: Author's website|
Bonnie has finally got away from Grandbag and Aunt Doreen and gone to live with her - very young - mother, Maybelle. Maybelle may be nervous and insecure but she brims over with love. And love is something Grandbag doesn't understand too well at all. For Grandbag, it's all about control and possession. But for Maybelle, it's about sharing, bright colours, pretty plants and pancakes for breakfast. Finally, there's some optimism in Bonnie's life.
But it doesn't last long. Grandbag arrives. With a suitcase. Maybelle can't possibly manage without her.
And it's all too much for Bonnie. In the middle of the night, she leaves the flat and finds a strange, magical garden and the launch site for a hot-air balloon that takes her to the land above the sky. There, Bonnie discovers a parallel but perfect world with a sister who looks just like herself, a Mum who looks just like Maybelle, and even a Dad, a new baby sister and a dog. Bonnie settles into this new, idyllic life, clings to it even, but still, things aren't perfect. She is jealous of Arabella. And a necklace she finds sticks to her neck and sometimes burns it. And then Grandbag turns up, calling herself Grandmother Marvel. She's just as controlling and just as dangerous as ever.
And Bonnie must make a choice.
Midnight Blue was first published twenty-one years ago. It won the Smarties Prize, even trumping Esio Trot, that wonderful love story from Roald Dahl. And it's no wonder. This is a singular book, full of contrasts. Kitchen sink drama sits beside fantasy, and warmth and love sit beside the darkness that comes from both within and without. We at Bookbag love stories that feature a passage between worlds and Midnight Blue is a fine example. Bonnie needs to escape. She needs a new world in which she can explore her feelings, even the dark, jealous ones. It's only through the self-knowledge this will bring that she will gain the courage to go back and stand up to the emotionally-controlling and manipulative Grandbag.
It's menacing and eerie at times and Grandmother Marvel's cold, dark eyes remind me of the black buttons belonging to the fake mother in Neil Gaiman's Coraline. But it's also full of love and kindness - something Bonnie sees easily in the fantasy world but finds difficult to trust in the real one.
It's about growing up, about self-knowledge, and about the redeeming power of love. It's imaginative and magical. And just a little bit scary. What more could you want?
Pauline has produced this reissue for Kindle herself. It has a gorgeous new cover image and lots of interesting stuff about the various inspirations that led her to write the book, including a real and historic balloon flight made by the extraordinary adventurer Jim Woodman and one of the founders of modern ballooning, Julian Nott who now works for NASA. Here's hoping it gives this lovely and unforgettable book a whole new generation of readers.
For further reading, take a look at our Top Ten Books for Young Readers That Feature a Passage Between Worlds. We love them all, but particularly recommend The Poison Garden by Sarah Singleton to those of you who loved Midnight Blue.
Pauline Fisk was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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