The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

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The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A magical and funny story with the usual Wynne-Jones blend of science and magic, this time taking Greek mythological characters and setting them the modern world. It's easy to read and packs in a great deal of interesting knowledge to a pacy, enjoyable plot.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: February 2008
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 0007263791

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Hayley's parents disappeared when she was just a baby. Since then, she has been looked after by her grandparents. Grandfather is a benign sort of chap. He's a bit of a boffin and is always locked away in his study, working on tremendously complicated stuff. On the occasions Hayley is allowed to sit with him, he spends time showing her the wonders of the universe on his computer. Grandmother, on the other hand, is horribly strict. Fun is not a word that Grandmother makes use of often. Grandmother educates Hayley at home, and so Hayley doesn't really have any friends, just those culled from a succession of maids.

So you can't really blame Hayley for making friends with the street musicians Flute and Fiddle. And you can't really blame her for wanting to explore when Flute and Fiddle seem to know all about the mythosphere, a wonderful other world shown to her once by Grandfather on one of his computers. But Grandmother is furious, so furious that she packs Hayley off to the extended family in Ireland. There are aunts and cousins aplenty there, and they all seem to know about the mythosphere too. They even play a game there. Until, that is, Uncle Jolyon gets to hear about it...

Ooh! Such fun! The characters in The Game are all representations of characters from Greek mythology. The wicked Uncle Jolyon is Zeus. The aunts are the the Pleiades - with at least three of whom, of course, Zeus had an affair. Hayley herself is actually Halley's comet - she is partly tied in to this mythosphere family, but she's partly outside of it too. The mythosphere is a dimension of myth threads, where time is suspended. It covers the Earth and its separate threads intersect and intertwine. The flood myths join and separate, and there are many threads involving golden apples.

It's a great story, fun to read and very humorous, and there are also a couple of moments of pathos as Hayley searches for her missing parents. But mostly, it's an entertaining blend of magic and science, in which Wynne-Jones treads the familiar ground of explaining the origin of myths and scientific theories using fantasy narrative. Children learn a great deal from books like this - it's education by osmosis, and it joins together some of the dots in a maturing world view. And with her tongue so often gently in her cheek, Wynne-Jones never makes it seem like a lesson at all.

The Game comes recommended to all junior fans of fantasy aged about eight to twelve or thirteen.

My thanks to the good people at Harper Collins for sending the book.

If they enjoyed The Game, they might also enjoy Voices by Ursula K Le Guin.

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Buy The Game by Diana Wynne Jones at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Game by Diana Wynne Jones at


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