Sit up and listen

29th December 2000 at 00:00
THE WORLDS OF CHRESTOMANCI. By Diana Wynne Jones. THE LIVES OF CHRISTOPHER CHANT. Read by Samuel West. CHARMED LIFE READ BY TOM BAKER. Collins. Children's Audio pound;8.99 each

It is not enough, it seems, to conjure up whole worlds, people them with a dazzling array of beings, human and magical, throw in adventures either humorous or testing and come up with a denouement involving thrilling high stakes: if it were, Diana Wynne Jones would be doing as well as J K Rowling.

As it is, although the books are enjoying a renaissance this year, the series lags far behind Harry Potter in popular appeal.

Listening to these readings, articularly in the unctuous delivery of Tom Baker, it is easy to see why: this is Potter without the passion.

It is difficult to care much about the central characters and, worse, the story is not told from their point of view but rather from that of an adult with an "isn't that quaint?" outlook. The experience is like being given a Liverpool shirt when you support Everton: how can something so right feel so wrong?

Samuel West makes a better stab at reading, but the story still feels too distant. However, Wynne Jones has her own devotees, particularly girls aged between seven and 12, who will enjoy these.


Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today