A Finder's Magic by Philippa Pearce and Helen Craig

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A Finder's Magic by Philippa Pearce and Helen Craig

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A gem of a book from one of the twentieth century's best writers for children. It's full of magic and gentle humour. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: November 2009
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 978-1406319828

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Till (that's short for Tillawn) has lost his dog Bess and he has no idea how he's going to find her until a mysterious stranger appears. Mr Finder interviews various witnesses, including a cat, a mole, a heron and Miss Mousey. It's not what Miss Mousey says that gives Mr Finder the vital clue as to what has happened to Bess, but the sketch she made of the riverbank at the time that Bess went missing. There's a lot of magic in the quest to find Bess, but it's all very confusing for Till and at one point he even doubts the motives of Mr Finder.

I love a story where there's a story behind the story. Philippa Pearce and illustrator Helen Craig shared two grandsons – Nat and Will – and Tillawn is an anagram of their names. In the course of the story Till and Mr Finder meet Miss Gammer (who tells stories) and Miss Mousey, who's an artist and when Till is reunited with Bess the two ladies decide that the story of the adventure would be a lovely one to tell and to illustrate – and so the book is born.

It's a gem of a book but then after reading Tom's Midnight Garden I knew that it would be. Philippa Pearce was one of the finest children's writers of the twentieth century and it was lovely to see her returning yet again to one of her regular themes - the relationship between the old and the young. There are her magical elements, which never seem forced and a gentle humour which leaves you smiling.

Children used to more action-based stories might find the book a little understated but it's worth encouraging perseverance. The deceptively simple story is thought–provoking and there's a beautifully worked puzzle to solve, with the aid of Helen Craig's illustrations. They're not there to pad out a story - they're an intrinsic part of it, giving clues and gentle hints as to what has happened. Some are works of art in their own right – there's a drawing of a cowslip which I would love to hang on the wall.

When I finished the book I had a strange sense of peace. All was well with my world. The book was, as expected, a gem.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If you haven't read Tom's Midnight Garden then you really should. For more about relationships between the young and the old we can recommend Badger on the Barge by Janni Howker.

Booklists.jpg A Finder's Magic by Philippa Pearce and Helen Craig is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2009.
Buy A Finder's Magic by Philippa Pearce and Helen Craig at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Finder's Magic by Philippa Pearce and Helen Craig at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Finder's Magic by Philippa Pearce and Helen Craig at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Finder's Magic by Philippa Pearce and Helen Craig at Amazon.com.


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