Madame Pamplemousse and the Time-travelling Cafe by Rupert Kingfisher
|Madame Pamplemousse and the Time-travelling Cafe by Rupert Kingfisher|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A small, sprightly, but flawed, children's adventure story. Kind of like an espresso in a paper cup. And likely to last as long.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: September 2009|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
Madeleine is not having the best day. She has been woken from her dreamy slumbers above the cafe run by her adoptive parents, in a Paris being run by a Draconian, Puritan mayoress, and is being harrassed by said mayoress in person. She's even being threatened with a stay in borstal for not revealing the secrets disclosed to us in the first book in this series. Her best friend, Madame Pamplemousse, and her cat Camembert, are missing, but the Madame's friend in turn is here to help Madeleine, due to the time-travelling nature of the ingredients dished up in his cafe. So it's not a matter of where but when Madame Pamplemousse will be found, and what she's up to in order to save the day.
I certainly liked the look of this wee, charmingly designed, adventure book. But beyond that second impressions weren't quite as impressive. I found the fact we meet a cafe, and the cafe's owner and secrets, then someone else, then Madeleine, in another cafe, and then her enemy, all a little awkward, and introduced in a way that felt unnatural, and that didn't engage.
My other major problem would be the vocabulary used for a book clearly designed for the under-tens. Ingredients ... would be subatomically blended with quantum froth and spritzed with space-time foam... - is this supposed to be endearing language for such an audience? There are several multi-syllable words unnecessarily overutilised (drat, it's catching).
The plot is a feisty thing, throwing Madeleine from pillar to post with huge energy, and daringly high levels of threat. But I would counter that it leaves rather little for her to do herself, other than be our eyes and ears into the mystery. The title character does nigh on everything, but is absent for a large amount of time, and the balance of things was thrown.
Still, this is an inventive and zesty adventure, with some fresh new touches and some age-old sensibilities, as perhaps befits a volume that comes across like a modern Beatrix Potter, in bijou hardback format at least. This is certainly of a different quality however. Yet I don't want to sound too hard on it - with a book that uses up so little of our time I would happily pick up more in the series and hope to enjoy them - to some extent at least.
I would however baulk at buying this for a passing seven year old girl (and it does seem rather girly), as I don't see it as one to stay on the shelves very long. Apart from that mind-expanding vocab it offered a sugar rush of time adventure, yes, but not quite in the best way.
I must thank Bloomsbury's kind people for my review copy.
If this book appeals have a look at the first book in the series.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Madame Pamplemousse and the Time-travelling Cafe by Rupert Kingfisher at Amazon.com.
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