Fantasy and adventure for 10-year-olds and above

13th August 2004 at 01:00
A Hat Full of Sky
By Terry Pratchett
Doubleday pound;12.99

The Gift
By Alison Croggon
Walker Books pound;7.99

Airborn
By Kenneth Oppel
Hodder pound;10.99

Harry and the Treasure of Eddie Carver
By Alan Temperley
Scholastic pound;12.99

A Hat Full of Sky's dust jacket should carry a warning. Something like, "Beware: kids may demand more from their books after reading this", would do. Its big ideas about life and death and its anarchic spin on formulaic fairytales make Terry Pratchett's third children's novel set on Discworld - the planet lugged through space by a giant tortoise and four elephants that has spawned a whopping 27 volumes for adults - a challenging and entertaining read for lively minded Year 6s and up.

While Pratchett veers from the fantasy rules, Australian author Alison Croggon sticks doggedly to them. The Gift tells the story of 16-year-old Maerad, a slave girl with magical powers whose parents have been murdered. She is rescued by Cadvan, who suspects she is the one legend predicted would restore the Light when the Nameless one rose again and the Dark encroached.

Rather than juggling a battery of big ideas, like Pratchett, Canadian author Kenneth Oppel has stuck to two or three rock-solid ones in Airborn and fleshed them out to produce a tightly plotted, fast-paced adventure with engaging and humorous characters that will appeal to top level Years 6 to 10.

Harry and the Treasure of Eddie Carver is a resolutely shallow romp, which is exactly what Alan Temperley intends. Harry lives with a geriatric band of kind-hearted cons at Lag Hall, "The Wrinklies" of Temperley's first Harry book. In this follow-up, the Wrinklies embark on a quest to find murdered gangster Carver's stash of loot to bankroll a school and hospital in Africa.

Read these reviews in full in this week's TES

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