“He wouldn’t hurt a fly (unless it was tickling his fur, in which case he would probably swat it.)”
This week I picked my Kindle back up; my second review of the year is finally here! I’ve been looking forward to doing a children’s story review mainly because I’ve written one of my own. It’ll be an excuse to do a little research; to pick apart another author’s work (positively!) and see how a different tone of voice and a mix of new ideas work in a story for younger audiences. I always find that by reading the work of others, you are overcome with ideas and become motivated to get on with that second draft or new chapter. Honestly? That’s exactly how I felt after reading this little gem!
It was instantly clear to me that a lot of thought, planning and effort has gone into this series of stories from Maxine Sylvester, and this was after only reading the first couple of chapters. Not only is this particular story in Ronaldo’s journey easy to get into, but there’s a lot behind it. From how we instantly feel we know the characters involved to us fearing what may happen next, I’m confident this one would be a big winner with a younger audience. It’s got everything a children’s story needs; hilarity, suspense, that warm feeling you get inside when you get really attached to a character and want everything to work out well for them – the list is endless! Maxine is a pro at getting these feelings and emotions across, even to a 26 year old me… (Who says adults can’t enjoy a feel-good children’s story?!)
Without spoilers, the story begins getting to know the main characters. Ronaldo the Reindeer is quite obviously a pro (that word seems to be cropping up often!) at flying school. His best friend, Rudi, (obviously spending some well deserved time away from Santa,) completes the duo perfectly. Imagine Harry and Ron in the Harry Potter series, or Frodo and Samwise in Lord of the Rings. Ronaldo and Rudi seem to fit the ‘best friends on an adventure’ category perfectly, and definitely do have a great adventure to boot.
Having not read the previous book in the series, I was a little worried that I’d pick up this one not knowing what was going on, or who any of the characters were. Thankfully, the book is that well written that I didn’t have any problems. It’s clear that Maxine has thought about this prior and made sure anyone could pick up any of the books and have a great reading experience; something I really like the idea of!
Never before have I read a children’s book and had a couple of chapters in mind that I’ve enjoyed the most. There’s a first time for everything! There’s a particular chapter I read which really explores a lot of emotions (as I mentioned previously) and it’s been done incredibly well, especially for a children’s story. Again, without spoilers, there’s a certain scene where Ronaldo encounters something unusual on his travels through the woods, and he has to act fast. In the space of a few sentences, you’re instantly swapping and changing through emotions as the rest of the chapter unfolds. Allowing a reader to feel this way and captivating them beyond belief is incredible to me! Maxine does this in a way that younger audiences would love too; a definite added bonus. See if you can spot the point I mean if you pick up your own copy of the book! It would be interesting to see 🙂
I absolutely adore the way the characters have little jokes between one another and they’re easy enough to understand for a younger audience too. Some jokes are cleverly put in there for pure comedy purposes for the reader too, that aren’t necessarily between any other characters.
“Ronaldo noticed the fur above her lip had frozen and turned white. It made her look like she had a moustache. He decided not to say anything. His father had made a comment like that once before and it didn’t go down very well.”
The illustrations, also provided by Maxine herself, are lovely to look at throughout the story and they also provide a snapshot in time. You find yourself glancing at them thinking, “Ahh, I remember that part!” Little additions like this make you really appreciate the time and effort that goes into creating a story.
Reading something new always gets me in the mood to write. This time, I can’t wait to get back on with my own children’s story, make those edits and finally get around to sorting those important illustrations out. Thinking about the extensive process that must have been put in place to finish a story like Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher really puts things into perspective. Being a single book in a series about the same characters, I imagine it can be extremely difficult to make things fit together and flow well. However, it’s clear how talented Maxine is in children’s story writing and she proves that if you have the passion and drive to succeed with something you’ve created from scratch, it will work well and you will succeed!
Overall, the story is incredibly well written and an absolute pleasure to read. Everything from the language used to the images presented throughout make the experience a joyful one, and will most definitely appeal to a younger audience. Through my experience of working in a school environment in the past and being a reading mentor for 3 years, the book seems a nice fit to get children into reading more independently. The majority of terminology used is simple but includes some of those trickier words that will, when explained, increase a child’s knowledge and vocabulary.
A huge thanks to Maxine for providing the younger generation with another great adventure to stimulate the imagination, a story they can lose themselves in for a while and, most importantly, something they can experience again and again without losing that spark you’d get from reading something through for the first time.
Do you have any recent children’s books in mind that you particularly enjoy? Is anyone writing a children’s story of their own? 🙂