Raven Boy and Elf Girl by Marcus Sedgwick
|Raven Boy and Elf Girl by Marcus Sedgwick|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Raven Boy falls out of a tree and squashes Elf Girl's home. And before they know it, the two squabbling companions are travelling together through Fright Forest in a desperate bid to save their world from a terrible ogre. As Raven Boy says: eep!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: July 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Raven Boy and Elf Girl are on a mission. An ogre has been trampling and crashing around the place, pulling up all the trees and destroying people's homes. Many of the forest creatures have fled, and poor Elf Girl has somehow managed to lose her parents. What's more, she doesn't really believe Raven Boy when he says he can talk to the animals, mostly because all they seem to say is RUN!
Still, someone has to go and find Witch Who Knows Everything: she's the only one who can tell them how to stop the ogre, and how to find Elf Girl's family. But to reach her they have to go right to the very centre of Fright Forest, and it's definitely well named: everywhere they turn the two young people meet villains and evil creatures who want to fight them or, worse, eat them for dinner. True, Elf Girl has her mother's magic bow, but she doesn't really know how to use it, and whenever she tries, unexpected things happen. Things do seem very dark indeed for our two heroes and their useful rat.
Fright Forest is a new six-book series for younger readers, which will be thoroughly welcomed by readers at the younger end of the eight to twelve age range. It complements beautifully the Raven Mysteries (which have been much enjoyed by Bookbag reviewers) because it has in abundance Marcus Sedgwick's trademark gothic, slightly spooky humour and quick-minded (and even quicker-tongued) characters who bicker and sulk but still manage to save the day and each other. Like the Raven Mysteries, it can also boast Pete Williamson as its illustrator: his designs of spiky, skinny children and branches full of vicious thorns do much to create the atmosphere of danger and doom with a generous splash of silliness. The story in this, the first in the series, is satisfactorily concluded, with Raven Boy and Elf Girl's questions about the ogre and the destruction of the forest answered, but straight away a further problem appears, and the two children (and, of course, the rat) are forced to set off again on their adventures.
Fright Forest is certainly a scary place, and a series of really horrible things happen to Raven Boy, Elf Girl and Rat. They are almost cooked (more than once), they are chased by various baddies including some extremely hungry trolls, and they are viciously attacked by the terrifying beast which guards the Witch. But there will be no nightmares for sensitive readers here: ridiculous reverses, accidentally successful magic and a leit-motif about people's names are just a few of the comedic devices used to lighten the tone and soften the impact of our heroes' extraordinary experiences. Furthermore, the more perilous the situation becomes, the more these two young people display a truly delicious sang-froid, being far more concerned with blaming each other for their fate, and having the last word, than with panicking. This is bound to provoke giggles of understanding in their readers, who will hear echoes of every argument they've ever had with their brothers and sisters. It's fun, it's exciting and it's a bit scary: what more would an eight-year-old ask for?
Apart from the books by Marcus Sedgwick mentioned above, Bookbag is more than happy to recommend the wonderfully silly Muddle Earth Too by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell and Goblins by Philip Reeve.
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