The Orchard Book of Heroes and Villains by Tony Bradman and Tony Ross

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The Orchard Book of Heroes and Villains by Tony Bradman and Tony Ross

Bradman Orchard.jpg
Buy The Orchard Book of Heroes and Villains by Tony Bradman and Tony Ross at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley
Reviewed by Jason Mark Curley
Summary: A veritable treasure tome of classic stories, wonderfully illustrated and re-written in a satisfyingly humorous and contemporary style.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 978-1843629733

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A few months ago I reviewed Amazing Tales for Making Men Out of Boys by Neil Oliver. I was very disappointed by the book, initially by the polemical nature of the writing and the level of blind nostalgia it was intent in fostering in its readership. But even when it came down to it, the writing simply didn't cut it.

The Orchard Book of Heroes and Villains, written by Tony Bradman and illustrated by Tony Ross, is the perfect remedy to Oliver's book. Again, it's large format with an enticing cover, but with this book the writing absolutely exceeds expectations.

It contains nine stories that I'd say have been re-written for the lower end of the eight - twelve market: Odysseus and the Cyclops, Robinson Crusoe, Beowulf, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, King Alfred and the Burning of the Loaves, Gulliver in Lilliput, Alexander the Great, Perseus and Medusa, and the story of David and Goliath.

The stories themselves keep to the basic plots, but have been re-written in a light and humorous way, which is bound to appeal to children and adults alike. Bradman has a strong handle on what will keep children entertained and glued to the page. The writing feels contemporary, as if the stories have been dusted off and given a glowing makeover with some 21st Century vocabulary and stylisation. There is lots of bombast and éclat, which makes the stories positively fly off the page.

This has really taken me back to the type of book I used to adore as a child – a treasure trove tome with really strong storytelling and, if I might add, imaginative and wonderful illustrations. I think I used to enjoy them so much because of the variety on offer, and, because of the obviously classic nature of the tales, the sheer re-readability. More like this please!

Something else sold me on the universal appeal of this book; I just got back to university again this week. When my housemates saw me reading this they were all asking if they could borrow it. Hmm, borrow? I think the way they were saying 'borrow' was that certain use of the word that implies you're not going to be seeing it again any time soon.

I think if your children enjoy this kind of writing, you might want to try them out on The Once and Future King by T.H. White. The first part of which, The Sword In the Stone, is reviewed on this site. Though it may be just a little more advanced, the humorous style of writing and solid storytelling on display in this book is mirrored there.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this wonderful book. I'm not 'borrowing' it to anybody!

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Buy The Orchard Book of Heroes and Villains by Tony Bradman and Tony Ross at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Orchard Book of Heroes and Villains by Tony Bradman and Tony Ross at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Orchard Book of Heroes and Villains by Tony Bradman and Tony Ross at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Orchard Book of Heroes and Villains by Tony Bradman and Tony Ross at Amazon.com.

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