Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long

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Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Come leap feet first into a world of vibrant colour and funky fantasy. Join a gnome, a unicorn, a fawn, a fairy and a mushroom on a fantastical adventure.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2015
Publisher: OUP Oxford
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780192742957

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Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2016: Illustrated Books

The Lord of the Rings has an impressive legacy, both as a trilogy of books and films. Its impact on the fantasy genre as a whole is almost immeasurable – in many ways the genre exists because of these books. Frodo and co. also lives on within the people who love and cherish the books and the fantasy genre as a whole, but how do you spark this enthusiasm in your kids? Matty Long may just have come up with a cunning plan.

Everything is going swimmingly, as you would expect in a place called Super Happy Magic Forest, but when a crisis occurs five unlikely heroes must set off on a quest deep into the land of the goblins. The only real issue is that none of them know what they are doing and one of them happens to be a mushroom.

Super is an explosion of ideas and colour all held together by a love of the fantasy genre. It is clear from the onset that Long has read many a book about elves et al. and he wants to pay homage to them, but also make fun of them. The book is an impressive size and the hardback version is nice and sturdy. This is certainly required as each double spread is packed with illustration and activity. The story itself works across the page, but even for a sharing book there is so much going on in the background that it almost hits Where's Wally proportions.

Visually the book is stunning. Long's drawings may be a little naive, but this is perfectly in keeping with the irreverent story format and really allows him to splash colour all over the place. Younger toddlers may actually feel a little overpowered by what is on offer, but for those just starting to want to read by themselves, this book could prove to be a good stopgap.

There is an issue with who the target audience is. The colour and illustrations attract children, but the subtlety of humour, references to pop culture and sending up of the fantasy genre are all likely to be lost on the average 4 year old. These elements have all been put in place by Long to entertain the adult. In film this works well, but here it can lead to you explaining why a joke is particularly amusing even though your child won't be allowed to watch Lord of the Rings until they are 12.

With its unlimited sense of mischief and colour there is no denying that this is an eye-catching and fun book. Toddlers will enjoy spotting everything on the page, whilst slightly older children will also want to take it aside and read it. On occasion the nods to modern fantasy do start to overpower the child friendly aspects of the book, but these are reigned in just enough to make the book fun for almost everyone.

If you found that this book inspired your children to love fantasy, they can put their new found enthusiasm into practise with Fairies Gnomes and Trolls: A Fantasy World in Polymer Clay by Maureen Carlson.

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Buy Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long at


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