Magic Ink by Steve Cole

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Magic Ink by Steve Cole

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: A laugh-out-loud adventure for tweens. A book that shows heroes come in every shape and size and that what is already inside you may be more important than any superpowers. Steve Cole popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: May 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857078704

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Stew isn't having a good week. He has moved house, left his friends and school behind and as if things weren't bad enough, his bedroom has been invaded by a well-dressed pig. But at least he won't be bored in the new house. The house used to belong to Stew's grandfather, a famous comic-book artist. When Stew's father opens up the attic his grandfather had locked up 20 years ago, things are about to get really exciting for Stew as he finds himself drawn into a comic-book style adventure which will test his courage, his intelligence and his artistic abilities.

Stu is forced to assume the role of a super hero to save a dying Merlin, who it turns out was the first comic book artist of them all. Thankfully he won't be completing his quest alone. But how much help can a talking pig, with an inherit predisposition for practical jokes be? But while Posho the pig may appear to be fit only for slapstick humour, he has the heart of a true hero.

Merlin, having a hint of his own future doom has hidden a bottle of magic ink and parchment, along with instructions where he knows Stew's grandfather will live some 1,400 years later. Stew's grandfather however lacks the self confidence to take on the challenge, and after drawing Posho, abandons him and the quest, leaving the attic locked until, after his death, Stew and his family move in. Stew is now Merlin's only hope and time is running out quickly. Naturally everything that can go wrong does go wrong and a number of things that couldn't possibly go wrong do anyway, after all this is very close to a comic book. At first Stew seems to be in this for the reward Merlin has offered, but thanks to the steadfast loyalty of Posho to the man whose magic created him but who spurns him as useless pig, Stew has a change of heart. He then sets off with Posho to rescue Merlin, at great personal risk.

My son loved this book. He prefers books with some illustrations, as many boys do, needing some visual connection to the characters in the story. He was literally laughing out loud and running in to show me the funny parts before I read the book myself. The humour is perfectly suited to a young boy, but as funny as this book is, there is more to it than that. Both my son and I felt the choice of a tuxedo-wearing pig with a posh accent and a top hat was a very strange choice for a super hero. But by the end of the book, we had come to love Posho, and despite being an old comic book fan myself, Posho has now joined the ranks of my favourite superheroes. There is a definite moral to this story. Posho has a terrible self image, being created as a laughing stock, abandoned by the man who drew him and despised by Merlin. But together both he and Stew learn to believe in themselves, and Posho finds that he can be much more than he was created to be. When the chance arrives, Posho refuses the gift of superpowers, but it turns out that his kindness, loyalty and courage are all powers he needs - well that and a sack full of lemons, but I won't say anymore on that for fear of spoiling the story.

My biggest complaint with this book is that it was written as a stand alone story. After reading so many of Steve Cole's Astrosaurs series, I was really hoping we would see more of Posho, but perhaps it is best that this book remain as it is. The ending is perfect and I don't see how another book could top this. I also do feel that the paper this is printed on is a bit too thin. The text is in a large, standard font, well spaced and very easy to read. The only problem is, the print does show through slightly from this other side, and this makes reading more difficult for children with dyslexia. This is minor though and did not affect reading enjoyment, either for my son or myself.

Overall, both my son and I are very impressed with this book. My son says it is just a tiny bit better than Astrosaurs and that is high praise indeed. As for me - I think the book is brilliant. I love the message to the story, to believe in yourself, and not to judge by appearance. It seemed to say anyone can be a hero. I loved the fact that this book may introduce many children to comics, a wonderful tool in developing literacy, as well as a grand way to show children that reading is fun. I like that it encouraged children to draw their own comics as well. It may even encourage children to want to learn the myths of King Arthur. We've already been reading these the last few weeks, so this aspect of the story was good timing for us. Most of all, I appreciate the fact that this book is perfectly written for boys. That isn't to say girls won't enjoy it too, I would have loved this a child myself, but good books for boys are harder to find, and this one is truly exceptional.

If this book appeals then we think that you'll also enjoy:

Z-Rex (Z Rex Trilogy), also by Steve Cole

My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O'Hara

Buy Magic Ink by Steve Cole at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Magic Ink by Steve Cole at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Magic Ink by Steve Cole at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Magic Ink by Steve Cole at Amazon.com.


Bookinterviews.jpg Steve Cole was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

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