Jungle Drop (The Unmapped Chronicles) by Abi Elphinstone

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Jungle Drop (The Unmapped Chronicles) by Abi Elphinstone

Buy Jungle Drop (The Unmapped Chronicles) by Abi Elphinstone at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Tanja Jennings
Reviewed by Tanja Jennings
Summary: Inventiveness, imagination and life lessons through the medium of fantasy are Abi Elphinstone's forte and Jungle Drop, her second instalment of The Unmapped Chronicles, is another enchanted delight. The train ticket inside promises the reader the destination of adventure and she does not disappoint. Abi's Roald Dahlesque twins Fox and Fibber Petty-Squabble tackle the dark magic of Morg the Harpy as the wicked being continues her bid for control of the Unmapped Kingdoms and the destruction of Faraway. As the twins go on a quest through a luminous rainforest in the company of a parrot who voices their thoughts, they discover the importance of kindness. With an urgent ecological message about the need to protect and respect our natural world, wonderful word play, fantastical creatures and magical objects, this will appeal to fans of Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz and Narnia.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 275 Date: May 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471173684

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Abi Elphinstone has said that she connects with her world building through her characters. In an interview with Books For Keeps she described visualising her characters "wearing head torches which gradually reveal the world they are seeing to her and to the reader." Just as the darkness of a mine is cut through by a spear of light so too do quarrelsome Fox and Fibber get their first glimpse of the phantasmagorical glow-in-the-dark realm of Jungle Drop when they emerge through the mouth of a Dragon on the Here and There Express. Running from the opprobrium of their demanding and selfish parents, they must address what is in their hearts to find what they seek.

The twins encounter many curiosities along the way including treetop unicycles powered by junglespit, Omnifruit, sinister Hunchback trees, snoozenuts, firefly messages, secret caves and Tantrum (reminiscent of Rowling's Whomping Willow) trees. All the children have to guide them in their quest are three magical objects gifted to them by a golden panther. The fairy tale tropes continue as surprises ensue and rash decisions change the course of events. Pursued by the malevolent Midnights, who are bleaching Jungle Drop of its colour by draining its magic and stealing the ingredients for its rain paintings (akin to deforestation), Fox and Fibber travel to the treacherous Bonelands where terror and challenges await.

Abi likes to research her books by experiencing adventures in exciting locations which inspire her fantasy worlds. As a child she loved "hiding in treehouses and building dens." Her escapades as an adult have included abseiling into jungle caves and paragliding. The treetop village of Timbernook is inspired by her stay in Elham Treehouse in Kent.

Jungle Drop has a compelling plot and entertaining characters, including Heckle the loquacious parrot, the disgruntled junglespook Tedious Niggle, tree dweller Iggy Blether and Total Shambles, a brave and clumsy swiftwing. Casper Tock makes a brief cameo appearance which allows a neat segue into a brief recap of the events of Rumblestar.

Amid the excitement there is an underlying didactic element as Abi encourages her young readers to be polite and respectful showing them that lying, bullying and stamping over others do not earn you friends. Her core message is that "kindness to others, to our planet and, perhaps hardest of all, to ourselves is what holds kingdoms and worlds together." This is where she differs from Dahl who punishes bad children instead of counselling them.

Elphinstone is also a word conjurer delighting in the use of portmanteau terms and the sounds her chosen vocabulary makes lending itself to being read aloud to a primary school audience. Her characters' names are charmingly apposite (quite Dickensian) and she pays tribute to C.S Lewis and J.K Rowling. There is even an allusion to Jim Henson's movie The Dark Crystal with the Unmappers threatened by the same fate as the Gelflings. Fans of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them will also be delighted by magical creatures like glass wing butterflies, trunklets and boglets and furniture that changes to fit your personality.

There will be more Unmapped Kingdoms to be explored in the next instalments of the Chronicles with new weather miracles to be protected by different adventurers. To celebrate the release of Jungle Drop Abi has launched a competition for wordsmiths. All that needs to be done to win a signed copy of JUNGLEDROP is to "invent a name for a magical creature, a magical object and a magical place that you might find in an enchanted jungle... Write a sentence about each name you invent that describes what it is. " Entries in by September 20th 2020. Details are available on her website for any interested readers.

We also have a review of Rumblestar (The Unmapped Chronicles) by Abi Elphinstone.

For more fantasy with an ecological message why not travel to the astounding and wacky upside version of the city of London where arachnid windows descend, unbrellas attack, words become utterlings and ninja bins guard an evasive bridge in Un-Lun-Dun by China Mieville or for a quest to find yourself follow the yellow brick road to The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Michel Laporte, Olivier Latyk and Vanessa Mieville (translator). You could also just vanish into another world through a portal in The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis or visit the fabulous Hotel Deucalion in Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend.

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Buy Jungle Drop (The Unmapped Chronicles) by Abi Elphinstone at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Jungle Drop (The Unmapped Chronicles) by Abi Elphinstone at Amazon.com.

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