Mortimer and the Sword Excalibur by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake

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Mortimer and the Sword Excalibur by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake

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Buy Mortimer and the Sword Excalibur by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: When a story involves Mortimer the raven and a lawnmower you just know there's going to be trouble!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 80 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781847806925

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If you think about all the many unsuitable items that Mortimer the raven has eaten, from staircases to bowler hats, it's surprising that he's still in as good a shape as he is. This time, Mortimer finds himself left alone with Mrs Jones' sewing machine. I'm still not sure why Mrs Jones ever lets him out of her sight, since he has an unerring capacity for trouble, yet here we find him, gobbling down the pink material that is intended for Arabel's new dress, swiftly followed by the needle! When Mortimer eventually discovers the foot pedal that makes the sewing machine go he and Arabel are turfed out of the house and allowed to go across the road to the park where a crowd has gathered around an interesting find in a large hole…

Mortimer is, of course, an intelligent bird. Having spent quite some time watching the park keeper with his very exciting LawnSabre lawn mower he is well-versed in how to start it up. So whilst Arabel is distracted he wanders over to the unattended lawn mower and gives the string to start the mower a jolly good pull. You can probably imagine the ensuing devastation caused! Poor Mortimer is only stopped from mowing down everyone in the park by an unfortunate plummet into the large interesting hole in the ground. Mortimer's landing smashes the old, round, stone table that was at the bottom of the hole and he flies out holding a sword in his beak. Has Mortimer discovered the sword Excalibur?

This has all the usual delights you'd expect from an Arabel and Mortimer story. There's lots of silliness, as usual, and Mortimer's antics continue to be both hilarious and almost painfully awkward to read because he gets into such dreadful trouble. Rather than being divided into chapters it is split into two parts, which seems a little odd, but you don't notice it as you read. The lack of chapters might make it more off-putting for emerging readers to try as there are no easy places to stop, but there are the usual illustrations throughout the book to help readers along with what's happening in the story.

Quentin Blake's illustrations seem to capture both Arabel and Mortimer's characters perfectly. There is one picture, right at the start, of the two of them sitting together on the windowsill, looking into the park, that I really like, with Arabel looking sweet and gentle, and Mortimer looking very happy (which is definitely a sign of upcoming trouble!)

These little books are so short that you'll need to forget about reading just one part per bedtime. You need to settle down for a good stretch of time, as I'm sure you'll be eager to know how things turn out with the sword! I personally felt things ended a little bit lickety-spit and not quite as satisfactorily as usual, but this is still a hugely enjoyable read and highly recommended.

Further reading suggestion: For my current favourite Arabel and Mortimer story take a look at, The Spiral Stair to see how it all begins, or you might enjoy trying Sensible Hare and the Case of Carrots by Daren King.

Buy Mortimer and the Sword Excalibur by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mortimer and the Sword Excalibur by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Mortimer and the Sword Excalibur by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mortimer and the Sword Excalibur by Joan Aiken and Quentin Blake at Amazon.com.

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