Review of The Treasure at the Top of the World –
A Freddie Malone Adventure
Author – Clive Mantle
Rating – 5 Stars *****
About the Author
Clive Mantle, Born in Barnet, is a well-loved British Actor and has been for nearly 40 years. As a boy in the 1960s, he sang with St. John’s College Choir, Cambridge, went to the National Youth Theatre and trained at RADA in the 1970’s and has been a fixture on stage and screen ever since.
Clive Mantle is best known for playing Little John in Robin of Sherwood, Greatjon Umber in Game of Thrones, Mike Barratt in Casualty and on stage as Tommy Cooper, and Lennie in Of Mice and Men. His voice is also well known from his work on over 180 audio books, and voicing animated characters, including Gator in Thomas the Tank Engine.
He is an avid reader and has been ever since his parents handed him Stig of the Dump. His favourite children’s book are the Noggin the Nog sagas by Oliver Postgate and he has a passion for walking in the Wiltshire Countryside. Clive Mantle’s inspiration to write what is the first in the series of Freddie Malone adventures came during a trek to the Everest Base Camp for the charity Hope and Homes for Children. He has since returned to the Himalayas and completed the Annapurna circuit. Everest has been his passion since childhood, when his Father enthused him with its many tales. Years later, he realised a lifetime’s ambition and set foot on the mountain himself, and the magnificence of the experience is with him everyday.
Clive Mantle has said: “I have woven a tale of adventure in the past and present against the wondrous backdrop of Nepal and its people. I am thrilled that the story I wrote for my own son to pass on the flame has now found a wider audience, who will hopefully have their imaginations stimulated as mine was as a young boy”.
In the first of The Adventures of Freddie Malone series, The Treasure at the Top of the World Freddie receives an intriguing and unusual thirteenth birthday present from his Uncle Patrick. The ancient world map goes straight up on his wall, but Freddie fast discovers that the map is much more than just a decorative historic artefact. Freddie, and his best friend, Connor, are soon plunged into a mountainous adventure, on a path that leads to a longburied mystery, pursued by ruthless adversaries who’ll go to any lengths to get what they want.
This is more than just a tale to tell. This a story of (in no particular order) adventure, social and land geography, history, present day, travel and friendship.
It is indeed a fictional book, but also seems part travelogue in a way, although not strictly written like one.
There are relics and treasures to be had, people to meet and a country to explore, all within the safety and comfort of your own home.
This is an impressive story that will grip children from the age of 8 years old and teenagers alike. It will send them on a terrific journey of exploration within their imaginations as they read and delve further into this book.
The cover is brilliantly conceived. It looks exciting and instantly eye-catching, with the swirly writing going into Mount Everest. It is very fitting to the content within the book. The characters are well developed – they are realistic, relatable and likeable. Readers will be able to care about these characters enough to want to find out more about them.
In the beginning of the book is the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It’s not as random as it first appears. Read further into the book and all becomes apparent and makes complete sense as to why it is cleverly featured right there. It’s a fantastic, attention grabbing beginning to this novel!
The story begins at the beginning of the school summer holidays with Freddie and his best friend Connor joining together for Freddie’s birthday party. One of the gifts is an ancient map. This is where the adventure begins… After feeling unwell, he mysteriously finds himself in Kathmandu, Nepal. The map is definitely no ordinary map!
The map illustrated within the book, featuring all the locations within the story.
Children and teenagers would absolutely be able to get a sense of the sights and sounds of the city as well as a sense of emotions. They will find themselves transported to this country through the map, photos and descriptions given.
There are great photos of Mount Everest and Namche Bazarr. The photos are a brilliant way of enhancing children’s knowledge of these two iconic places in Nepal in a very visual way. Infact, throughout the book, each location in Nepal is wonderfully descriptive, which for children and teens (or anyone unsure of what anything in Nepal looks like), would be very useful for them.
Clive Mantle weaves facts about Mount Everest and famous exhibitioners/mountaineers and other people Freddie comes across living in Nepal, into what is essentially a fictional story, very effectively. There is enough to create a fascination and to enhance knowledge, but not so much that readers will feel overwhelmed with it all. There is a very good balance between fact and fiction as well as a good pace being mantained throughout.
The book twists and turns between two worlds. It’s not all plain sailing for our intrepid explorer as the story moves along at a good pace. The transition between the two worlds are written clearly, ensuring the book is accessible to all within the age group, avoiding confusion. It also effectively mantains a natural flow.
The book may well contain the much used method of time-travel, but the concept and the map, which is used as a device here to tell the story has a freshness about it.
There is a real sense of adventure and danger within this book that will excite any young reader. There are large themes of friendship, adventure and bullying all interweaved within the narrative and dialogue of the story. Clive Mantle has handled it all very well and has evidently given a lot of thought, sensitivity and care to this. Within the back of the book are several useful websites which children and their parents/carers etc can access for support. On a lighter note, he has also given further reading books for teenagers. His choices are good, they will resonate with teens who want to find out more about Nepal, Mount Everest and adventure. There are also a few pages at the end of the book, devoted to explaining the facts behind the story. This is informative and also age appropriate and connect beautifully with the story. All of this additonal information is definitely worth reading and back-up the book very well. They are also as well written as the main story itself.
This book will excite, inform and educate children and teenagers in a way that will spark their imagination, curiosity and interest. The fictional story itself is absorbing. It can be read within a home, a school and there is plenty of content within it that schools, parents, children, teenagers can use to encourage both private reading and to spark conversations with each other.
Overall, I was impressed by the content and the way it was all semlessly handled within this book and how well it is written as a whole, especially since so much is covered within those pages. Clive Mantle’s writing is very good, the language used is age appropriate for the suggested marketing age of 8+. His passion, that he has had since childhood really comes through within this book, as does the desire to share tales with others, as his father did with him. Children and teens generally like to learn about different parts of the world and Nepal, certainly in my experience of previously working within a voluntary children’s group, is one of those countries which does fascinate them. So, this book certainly feeds into their natural curiosity very well.
Watch out for more Freddie Malone books to come! Excitedly, I can tell you that Clive Mantle has informed me that he is currently in the process of writing book 2 of the series, which is set in Ancient Egypt, and book 3 will be about Pepys and the great Plague and Great Fire of London.
I would like to thank Clive Mantle for providing the photos and other very useful information, such as the synopsis, personal info and details about his upcoming books.
Title: The Treasure at the Top of the World
Author: Clive Mantle
Some Main Purchase Points: Amazon, WH Smith, Foyles, Wordery
ISBN: 978 – 1 – 78270 – 321 – 1
Publisher: Award Publications Limited
Cover Design: Patrick Knowles
Photograph of Everest: Daniel Prudeck/Shutterstock.com
Photograph of Namche Bazaar: Raisa Suprun/Shutterstock.com
Map and Text Illustration: Angie Hewitt