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Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children Hardcover – October 6, 2009
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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*Starred Review* Iggulden follows the breakaway success of his nonfiction guide to restoring adventure to overprotected kids (The Dangerous Book for Boys, 2007) with another wickedly funny and ingenious read. This time, he creates an intricate fictional world in which the tiny Sparkler—Peter Pan–like in his mischief, Ulysses-esque in his cunning—holds together three separate stories. Tollins are tiny, nectar-eating woodland creatures with elf ears and wings but bigger than the fairies they casually use as handkerchiefs. They enjoy an idyllic existence until a fireworks factory is built in the village of Chorleywood. One of the Tollins falls into a rocket, producing the most bang for the buck ever witnessed, and the men of the village hunt the Tollins down to use as fodder for their fireworks. Parts 2 and 3 continue Sparkler’s perils and escapes from prison, execution, and a runaway hot-air balloon. Sparkler is a self-made scientist—it’s great fun to see him using applied chemistry for fireworks, finding herbs for medicine, and discovering the first steam engine. Duncan’s full-color illustrations and maps bring the world to witty life. A note at the end likens the Tollins’ fate to child labor during the Industrial Revolution. There is much to think about and love in this beautifully realized world. Grades 3-6. --Connie Fletcher
“A deliciously subversive vein runs through this story collection-not surprising coming from the coauthor of The Dangerous Book for Boys…Iggulden’s flair for the ironic and absurd, which recalls Lemony Snicket, should tickle both kids and adults.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
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This is not a fairy story. As the author is quick to point out, Tollins are not fairies and it is in fact rather disturbing how fairies are treated here. They wind up accidentally squished quite a bit, and are used as hankies by their larger Tollin counterparts. Who needs a snotty fairy? The humour here is sly and will be appreciated by a wide age range. This book made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. The writing is superb and the illustrations perfectly complement the story by adding to the charm of these small creatures and their exploits. Be forewarned, these stories are not for the faint of heart. Tollin health care consists of amputation for the part that is bothering you - even for a case of dandruff - and the High Tollin is prone to ordering executions. The whimsical nature of the illustrations help to sort of soften these moments and they end up just adding to the fantastical nature of the story.
I simply can't wait to see more adventures. This is a big recommend for anyone ages 5 and up and seems to be ready made for classrom reading all the way up to 4th grade or so... The gruesome elements and the humour are sure to keep even the older kids tuned into this unique book.
You may want to know that the book comes across as being a little bit British, but in a charming, universal,sort of British way. There are a few references to locations dotted across southern Britain, but these should be viewed much as Westminster Tower appears in the Peter Pan Disney film - it serves as an anchor, but never intrudes.
A superb book, which is guaranteed to keep any 5 year old child completely enthralled for many a reading. An unequivocal 5*'s
There is enough eeeww-yukky-gross humor to satisfy everyone, without overdoing it, and plenty of tongue-in-cheek irony for parents as well.
I like the emphasis on curiosity, education, and alertness; after all, (without giving it all away), the plot really rests on all three.
On a side note: Thank you, Mr. Iggulden, for your treatment of fairies. As a librarian, I am nearly as tired of THEM as I am of VAMPIRES.
Absolutely PERFECT illustrations, Ms. Duncan!
And whoever decided on the cover looking the way it does: Excellent. Someone understands that kids like eye candy, too.