Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian – All is Not as it Seems in this Unique Book @Jsmithauthor @matadorbooks #fantasy #mentalhealth #kidslit #fiction #crossover @twylie68 @litlemonbooks @EmmabBooks @SueWeedon #Review

Review of Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian
Author – J.M. Smith

Rating – 4 Stars ****


About the Author

J.M. Smith is a retired psychotherapist who worked within the NHS mental health department for many years.

 

Tony Plumb book


Blurb

If Your Mind Housed a Spy, What Secrets Would it Spill?

Harbouring troubled memories of time in care, Tony Plumb struggles to keep his mind on track.

Prone to episodes in ‘Madsville’ and bombarded by thought chariots carrying unwanted baggage from the past, he’s smuggled to Ellodian by the rule dodging social worker, Ms Bendy Legget.

At this spooky, underground facility, Tony’s history intertwines with the present and the task of answering three crucial life-changing questions cannot be avoided.

With help from good friends and therapy, Tony challenges authority, rights and wrongs and makes enemies, until he finally comes to understand the nature of his conundrums, the meaning of the word family and the darkest secret of all:
What really happened at the waterfall

Tony Plumb card

Review

Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian is a fictional book that is perfect for Christmas, but it is also one that can be read all year round. It does mention Christmas, but that’s not the main crux of the story.

There are strong themes of mental health, family relationships, separation, loss, being from the care system, dealing with issues, self discovery, throughout this book. They are all written in a sensitive, tangible and realistic way. There is however some humour to be found within this book too, which really lifts it and adds to the life of the tale.
The story is complex, but not overly so, since it is well plotted. It would hit its target audience of 9-12 year olds who are good readers very well. It is age appropriate for this age group in the way the themes and language used are handled.

This book is firmly in the crossover market because it would suit any child from 9, teenager/YA and adult. It would easily suit people who enjoy either fantasy and/or tales that take you on a journey through life and of mental health.  I would recommend for its target “crossover” audience.

We immediately meet Tony Plumb who is not just thirteen, but thirteen and a half years old to be precise. He is at Evensham Social Services to see Ms Bendy Legget (whose name I just love for its humour). We get to know that he was in a children’s care home in Daisy Bank. I like that there is no hanging around to meet the main protagonist and to get to begin to know and understand him. The story has instantly begun and starts at a good pace, which remains constant throughout the book.

Before long, Tony has entered the mysterious place of Ellodian. The story goes between this world and the world of the therapy he receives.

The thought processes of Tony and the moles are in a different font and style. This is an ingenious idea because it doesn’t detract from the narrative of the story and flows very smoothly. It also looks effective and fun on the pages, making the story easy to read and follow. We actually get to know that Tony has what he calls “thought chariots”. I love this description, already it depicts what is going on and gives a real insight into the state of his mind. It gave a sense of true feeling about what he was going through.

Enter the unique world of Ellodian

The mysterious, dark place of Ellodian is where Tony is sent to, with his parrot – McGurney. It’s an adventure like no other! As a reader I found myself being immersed into this world very easily. We meet new characters, more authoritative adults for Tony to contend with – Miss Frankly and Mrs Sherbet and Prospect . Again, I just love the humour of the names.

The entire world of Ellodian that readers are thrust into is well described and mysterious, with odd uniforms which makes you question: Who or What are The Moles?
As you read on, I am sure you too will find yourself totally immersed because you want to know more and you will discover the significance of the moles. This is a world that I found myself not being able to help myself wanting to know what more curiosities it had to offer.

Tony finds himself on a mission to discover the answers of 3 questions. These aren’t any ordinary questions. They are exploratory questions about himself. Let’s just say, not the types of questions you would normally be asked in everyday conversation. I think this just adds to the mystery of the main character of Tony Plumb and who he truly is as a person. The questions are effectively set out, easy to understand and moves the story onwards very well and is created in such a way that feeds into the curiosity of the imagination. It becomes even more thought-provoking. By this time, I had already invested in the main protagonist, so I needed to know if all the questions were answered, how and what the actual answers are and the truth of Tony Plumb. I also wanted to know by this stage, what Ellodian actually was.

I enjoyed meeting Mrs Heapy – a psychotherapist by profession. In amongst the talk about mole friends, there is a real emotion that comes through from Tony. It is sensitively and realistically written, when we learn a bit more about the relationship between him and his parents. Quickly, I was captured and I think even our younger readers will be too. Tony also at this point, becomes even more likeable than what he ever was to begin with. We begin to get much more of a sense of his life. This isn’t just an adventure/fantasy book with some character or other leading you through many paths. It’s more than that. The main protagonist is 3 dimensional with real issues, real emotions and is a character to invest fully into.

Perfax is an intriguing character with major issues, which we see quickly and get the understanding of his temperament. He is a character that, although comes very much later in the book, is so well written.

Evensham Social Worker Department is returned to in the book. It gives it some grounding and shows the depth of Tony. The story, as it goes between Evensham and the world of Ellodian is written in a way that any reader will be able to follow.

The book concludes very well, it left me satisfied and I am sure it will leave anyone else reading this well written, well paced book, feeling the same. All in all it is a thought-provoking story and the balance between the issues and the fantasy elements are well-balanced. There are also the most unexpected twists and turns that are written in an inspired way of creating more drama. This also develops the story further and adds to the intrigue into how the story can possibly end. I would say –  take a chance on this debut child/YA/adult cross-over novelist and discover what is real and what is not in Tony Plumb’s life. Discover the world of Ellodian and allow yourself to be taken on a journey. You won’t be disappointed!

With thanks for J.M. Smith for writing to me with extra information about herself, for sending me a message/request to review her book and for sending me a copy of her book and an accompanying card/bookplate.

*Please Note – This is an impartial review.

________________________________________________

Title: Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian

Author: J.M. Smith

Publisher: Toubador/Matador – Juvenile/YA Fiction

Pages: 273

Main Purchase Points:  Amazon, WH Smith, The Telegraph Bookshop

ISBN 978 – 1 – 78901 – 503 – 4

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Article on Judy Blume : Are her earlier children/pre-teen and young adult books still relevant today?

I would like to say that I was looking through my shelves and came across my books by Judy Blume, that would be more normal, but I wasn’t. I was in fact in the shower, the place where inspiration has often struck for many a thing. So, my attentions oddly turned to Judy Blume. I began to think about her books that I loved reading, some of them even over and over and it got me wondering about their relevance for today’s children. So that’s what I am going to explore and answer within this article.

Judy Blume, the American author who many children in the 80s and 90s were clamouring to read, not just in the US, but also the UK. She has written several books crossing all age groups. There are books for young children, teenagers/young adults and adults. The question is: are her books still relevant to today’s youthful readers in 2018 and beyond?

All of her stories have something in common with the contemporary, more newly published books that are read today. That is they all have universal themes of issues, friendship, family and what it is to be growing up into a teenager/young adult and finding your way in the world, with so much going on in life. They also have strong, but believable characters that can be easily related to.

These issues aren’t just universal, but still exist today. Take Blubber for example. A book about a girl who joins a new school and happens to be overweight and yet endures being bullied terribly over her appearance. This still goes on in today’s society. The book is also about building resilience and courage to tell someone, to a certain extent as well as friendship. This too is useful for children to read today. Bullying still happens in today’s society!

Blubber

The Fudge series, starting with Fourth Grade None and ending with Superfudge will still be found as being fun for children to read today. Children still get up to mischief, have friends and family. Her character, Sheila, within this series also has a book of her own called Sheila the Great has themes of friendship and also that feeling of perfection, even though you know you’re not and yet that’s what you feel you have to project to the world. Children to different degrees, still have these feelings as they try to find their way in life and feel that need to impress all the time. They have in the past and I dare say they will into the future too.

Judy Blume Fudge

Just As Long as We are Together, it’s sequel: Here’s to You Rachel Robinson and Starring Sally J. Freedman all have historical aspects within them. The difference that Just As Long as We are Together and Here’s to You Rachel Robinson are written in the present time. Well. the 80’s anyway, but with historical references and race relations, especially within Iggie’s House. The themes throughout them are those of best friends, family and education from a teenager’s point of view. It’s Not the End of the World tackles issues surrounding a family breaking-up and moving ever closer to divorce and all the emotions.  Parents still divorce and children still try to get their fairytale ending. All these books show family and friend issues, which still exist in similar ways as today.

              Just as Long as We're TogetherHere's to you Rachel RobinsonStarring Sally J Freeman as Herself

 

Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, tackles growing up. It’s about forming secret clubs to talk about things that seem to matter an awful lot when you’re a girl coming of age, such as boys and the changing body. It also has a focus on friendships, family and religion. In this case the Jewish and Christian faiths, interfaith marriages and falling in and out of a relationship with God. Many children, young people and even adults have questions, doubts and curiosity. The book also tackles themes that present in lots of teens/young adults such as anxieties and insecurities about growing up. The books Deenie and Forever are also about the coming of age. Deenie, however shows it from a different point of view. It is primarily about a girl who has scoliosis and how she feels about having a back brace and seeing a councillor as well as tackling growing up. It is also about friendships, puberty, discovering relationships and in Deenie’s case, if a boy would still fancy her or not.
Everyone comes of age and everyone starts growing up, no matter what their life circumstances are.

Are you there God

So, returning to my initial question of: are Judy Blume’s children to pre-teen to teenage/young adult books still relevant for today? The answer is absolutely YES, they are. these topics and issues are always going to be around and even though they were primarily first published between the 70’s and 80’s, they’ve essentially not dated. Alright there aren’t the mobile phones or tablets that we have today, but the topics, the discussions, the issues, the coming of age are all exactly the same as what this age group have right now and future generations will too. They are recurring themes in nearly all of her contemporaries books, in some form or another, be it an actual coming of age book, or fantasy and even some mystery books have some of these themes. That is because they tackle many aspects a young girl, progressing and transitioning into famale adulthood will deal with at somepoint or another in their lives. They also deal with other topics too that are universal and may be witnessed, if not experienced. In some sense, all the characters, even though written a few decades ago, are still going to be just as relatable today as they were when they were first conceived. There are strong, believable characters, there is joy, anguish and compassion to be felt within the pages. There are also lessons to be learnt within those pages, even for today’s society. So, even though the cover-art/book jackets have changed over the years, after each publication, the themes of life in reality have not. Each theme is still being lived out by someone, somewhere in the world, everyday and every year.

So, if you’ve not tried one of these books by Judy Blume yet, perhaps because they’re not on the number 1 spot or because of when they were first published, then think about them again and them a go. These are books that will always stand the test of time and the pre-teen and teenage/young adult groups will always be able to relate to the contents of her books.

Judy Blume’s books can be purchased in Amazon, Book People and other bookshops. Occasionally they can be borrowed in your local library.
They can be bought as a box-set, individually and some stories feature in 3-in-1 books.

The Treasure at the Top of the World – A Freddie Malone Adventure by Clive Mantle – Go Time Travelling and Open Up A World of Adventure and Discovery. @MantleClive @award_books @twylie68 @LoveBooksGroup #kidslit #teenbook #debut #BookReview #Education #Schools

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 photoClive 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. 

Synopsis

The Treasure at the Top of the World coverClive 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.

 

Review

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.

Coming Soon

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.

   Namaste

____________________________________________________

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

Pages: 272

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