|Waking Merlin by Tanya Landman|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Waking Merlin is an inoffensive and lighthearted little adventure that will probably appeal to girls more than boys. It's nicely written and easily tackled by newly confident readers. It is perhaps a little too anodyne to provide fun for the over 9s.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: October 2006|
|Publisher: Walker Books Ltd|
When she was ten years old, Katrina Picket woke Merlin. It was quite by accident - she'd had no intention of doing any such thing. But is was fortunate for everyone in England that she did.
Albion is in peril. An enormous meteorite is hurtling towards Earth and will land slap bang in the middle of London in only a few days time. The Prime Minister knows all about it but is helpless to prevent the looming catatrophe and has simply turned to drink. So it is fortunate that Katrina Picket has woken Merlin, as the future of the country lies in his magical hands. Although, perhaps not, for Merlin's magic can only be unleashed with royal assent. There is nothing else to be done but wake Arthur, and Guinevere, and Lancelot, and Mordred...
And so, Waking Merlin becomes a jolly romp with wizards, kings, queens, knights and even dragons, all from long ago, all happily trying to save twenty-first century Albion from its latest peril. It's very reminiscent of Doctor Who - people don't seem to be at all perturbed by the reappearance of the Knights of the Round Table. They simply take it all in their stride or put it down to some publicity stunt or other. Meanwhile, Katrina and Merlin (read Rose and Doctor Who but with knights not aliens) rush about doing some very home-made magic and saving the day. It's great fun.
Katrina Picket is forthright, determined and ready for anything. Merlin is crabby and cross but desperate to save Albion. King Arthur is everything a child has ever dreamed he could be. There are plenty of funny moments and plenty of hair-raising adventures but absolutely nothing even the most over-protective of parents could object to. It really is a sweet and innocent little confection of a book.
Waking Merlin is very definitely aimed at the newly confident reader. The style is sparky and buoyant and while the vocabulary isn't dumbed down, it's nicely straightforward. Children, particularly girls, who are just ready for a full-length book will certainly enjoy it as it fairly bounces along. It's also very visual, which is perhaps to be expected, as Landman's background is in youth theatre. In fact, Waking Merlin would adapt very well for television. Having said that, Katrina's adventures are so undemanding as to be almost anodyne and I don't think keen readers would do more than devour the book and forget it. As Waking Merlin is the first in a series, Landman probably needs to think more about character development and overall theme if she wants to take readers of this first instalment along for a lasting ride.
Buy Waking Merlin if your child is just beginning to read full length books and borrow it from the library if they're capable of more of a challenge.
Thanks to the publisher, Walker, for sending the book.
T H White's The Sword in the Stone is the classic tale of Arthur and Merlin. Every child should read it.
You can read more book reviews or buy Waking Merlin by Tanya Landman at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Waking Merlin by Tanya Landman at Amazon.com.
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Should I borrow it for Katie (who is 5 and half, still cannot read!!!!!!) and is into reading material ranging from Mog to Mister Men to Daisy Meadows (bleugh...) to Just So Stories...
If you have the patience to read a 150 pages of (albeit fairly large) type to her, and she doesn't mind a lack of pictures, yes. Although, I think the book is pretty much specifically targetted at new readers who aren't up to reading AND thinking at the same time.