Review Blog

Jun 24 2012

The fabulous flyer by Terry Deary

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Ill. by Helen Flook. Terry Deary's Victorian tales (series). A and C Black, London. 2012.ISBN 9781 4081 5408 3.
(Ages: 7+) Early chapter book. Humour. Historical.
Deary seems to have made a hit with his tales of derring-do, set in ancient times. There are four each in the series about Egypt, Rome and Greece, with another four set int he times of the Vikings, Pirates and Knights. Each story is complete in itself, consists of a half dozen chapters of about 6 pages each, is well illustrated and is interesting and exciting. Each has all the ingredients to keep newly independent readers reading to the end and feeling most successful at doing so. This is one of a new series set in Victorian times.
In this particular tale, our hero, Henri Giffard is about to fly his contraption, a steam driven airship. Seen through the eyes of Marie, the homeless child living in the loft in the top of the barn where Henri is making his machine, we see the derision hurled at him from his landlord, Mr Herbert as he demands more money for the use of the barn. Through Marie's observance we hear about how the machine has been invented and built, finally flying over the roof tops of Paris in1859.
Deary's story gives a potted history of Giffard and his machine and incidentally tells the reader a great deal of information about the life of street children at the time, ensuring readers will be glued to each page. Two pages at the end of each book render the historical facts in a brief summary for the reader. In this case the tale is very sad, as Henri could not replicate the success of 1859, eventually going blind.
Fran Knight

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