AMANDA IN MALTA THE SLEEPING LADY: A BOOK REVIEW

With a unique blend of adventure, friendship, history and travel Darlene Foster has hit upon a winning and inspirational combination for her children’s books Amanda Travels.

The series is aimed at middle grade (aged 9-12) children, although from reading her latest book I feel it would also be suited for adept readers of a younger age as well as reluctant readers.

Darlene Foster’s latest in the series, Book 8, takes the reader to Malta after Amanda receives a letter from her best friend Leah. To receive a letter alone sends concern to Amanda in the modern digital age of emails. Leah hints that something is wrong, but gives no detail and wants Amanda to join her.

Amanda would love to leave the cold wintry weather of Canada behind her for the warmth and sun of the Mediterranean island but would it even be possible?

As with all children’s books, a resolution is quickly found and Amanda joins her class mate and his parents on their holiday on the beautiful island.

Immediately the author captures the heavenly warmth of the landscape, limestone buildings and the history perfectly. In snippets, the reader is enveloped in the amazing historical elements of the island, some of which become central to the story whilst others act as a stunning backdrop to the action.

Any reservation I had that the historical might slow down the pace of the story proved unfounded as the plot is quickly propelled along. Although there are dramatic events such a brief kidnapping, ominous warnings, chases and unexplained killings of protected birds these are all pitched gently and safely for the younger reader.

Initially, Amanda cannot even find Leah and when she finds her it turns out that Leah’s aunt has become mixed up with crooks. Two criminals want Leah’s aunt, who is an archaeologist, to steal the 4000-year-old Sleeping Lady statue from the museum otherwise there will be consequences. Could Leah even be involved?

Luckily Amanda and Leah are not alone on their mission. Max is a helpful and able go-between and Caleb, the son of the family friend, provides many comic moments throughout the book, particularly with his strange phobia of fish and love of all things Popeye.

When finally they visit the famous Popeye Village he is ecstatic and his courage shines through as he has to rescue Leah!

I like how all the main characters are slightly flawed with their fears and how through working together they find courage, helping each other. The warmth and kindness is a beacon of hope!

Amanda in Malta is a hugely enjoyable book, the writing flows with ease and the plot had me eagerly turning the pages. The book took me back to my addictive reading of the Nancy Drew mysteries as young and I can see how readers will long to read and collect the whole series of Amanda Travels.

Although I have unfortunately not read any previous books within the series this is no way hampered my enjoyment or understanding of The Sleeping Lady. The author slips in enough backstory to ensure this book is an exciting and stand-alone book.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and impartial review.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

PUBLICATION DATE: 11th May 2021

PUBLISHER: Central Avenue Publishing

GENRE: Children’s Fiction / Middle Grade / Travel

AVAILABLE:

AMAZON US: PAPERBACK KINDLE

AMAZON UK: PAPAERBACK KINDLE

ABOUT DARLENE:

A bit about me. I am a writer of children’s stories, a retired employment counsellor, and ESL tutor, a wife, mother and grandmother. I love travelling, reading, shoes, cooking, sewing, music, chocolate, walking on the beach and making new friends. My grandson once called me “super-mega-woman-supreme”. I was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where I dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. I currently divide my time between Orihuela Costa in Spain and the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. My husband, Paul, and I enjoy spending time with our adorable dog, Dot.

CONTACT:

Do visit Darlene on her Blog or on Twitter.

Finally, I can highly recommend you listen to a wonderful interview with Darlene Foster on Rebecca Budd’s excellent Tea Toast & Trivia podcast. Their sense of fun is fantastic and their laughter infectious. It is touching how Amanda joins Darlene and her husband on their travels!

OSKAR’S QUEST #NewBook

It’s here! I am overjoyed to announce the release of my latest book!

UPDATE: NOW ALSO OUT ON KINDLE with optional pop-up text boxes … links are below.

Oskar is afraid of adventures. Yet one day he finds himself on a mysterious island which needs his help.

Join Oskar on this unexpected and magnificent quest, where he finds not only courage but so much more …

“It’s light, extremely enjoyable and very gripping.” Esther Chilton, author & editor

The first review is already in and thank you so much to Bette A. Stevens who read a pre-release copy of Oskar’s Quest.

“In this beautifully illustrated children’s book, author Annika Perry captures the importance of caring for others, overcoming fears and making new friends.

 Young children are sure to relate as a fearful Oskar steps out of his comfort zone and embarks on a perilous journey in an effort to save a beautiful songbird and return happiness to an island where he’s been stranded during a fierce storm.

I loved the author’s generous use of onomatopoeia to paint memorable word pictures for little readers and listeners. PLIP-PLOP, FLASH, BANG—the story’s excitement builds.

Delightful!” ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

Oskar’s Quest is suitable for children aged 3 – 6, although I would like to say there is no upper limit to enjoying any book!

To Purchase Oskar’s Quest:

PAPERBACK AMAZON UK

KINDLE AMAZON UK

PAPERBACK AMAZON US

KINDLE AMAZON US

Also available in:

PAPERBACK: CA DE  FR  ES  IT  JP 

KINDLE: CA AU IN DE FR ES IT JP NL MX

Format: Paperback & Kindle ebook

Book Size (Paperback): 210 x 210 mm (8 1/4” x 8 1/4”)

Publisher: Klippor Press

Here Comes Pippi…

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Happy 70th Birthday this week to loveable anarchic Pippi Långstrump / Longstocking.

The Pippi Långstrump stories are hugely successful and enjoyed by children (and adults) across the globe. So far they have been translated into over 70 languages and the author Astrid Lindgren has sold more than 144 million books.

However, it’s on a personal level I want to say thank you to this mischievous character. Her independent fun-loving free-spirit had me believing anything was possible. Well, maybe not lifting a horse (I never tried!) but I got up to many wild-cap adventures during my childhood, surely influenced by Pippi. IMG_1026

Escaping from nursery aged four being one of my first clear memories! Alas we did not get too far as teachers caught up with myself and merry band of followers en route to the dark mystical wood near the school.

When older in England I often stood in front of Mary, the shop-keeper of our local sweet-shop on Saturday mornings, my pocket money clasped tightly in my fist and fantasied about being able to buy all the sweets to share out amongst my friends. Just like Pippi.

Pippi is naturally fearless just by daring to be herself. She could not imagine being or doing anything else. She does not have a malicious streak in her body, instead she means well all the time although sometimes things do not quite work out. The few times she realises she has done wrong Pippi is mortified and full of remorse.

Isn’t it every child’s dream for a few hours to be totally free from grown-ups, to do things that are not allowed? In her beautifully observed and amusing adventures Pippi makes friends with two other children and introduces them to her wonderful version of the world. These friends, well one in particular is my second reason for my love affair with the Pippi stories.

The two friends are siblings Tommy and Annika – my namesake. There I was, in a book, in a record, same blonde hair, same age, yellow jumper, brown corduroy trousers led safely astray by very original Pippi.

I spent so many hours listening to my record of the stories that at times fiction blended in with reality. Did I or did I not strap scrubbing brushes onto my feet and dance around on a soap-sudded kitchen floor to clean it? I know I often lay non-conformist style on my bed, my feet on the pillow, my head at the end of my bed. Just like Pippi.

At times Tommy and Annika tried to tame this wonderful maverick character; even convincing her to attend school with them for a day. The experiment  does not go not well and Pippi decides school is good for the holidays it grants you!

220px-Astrid_Lindgren_1924Astrid Lindgren felt a close affinity for children; perhaps as a result of being mostly absent for the first years of her own first child’s life as he lived with foster parents far away in Copenhagen whilst she worked in Stockholm. Throughout her life she campaigned for Children’s Rights and was instrumental in the banning of corporal punishment against children. I imagine Pippi’s  exuberance and courage reflected Astrid Lindgren’s own approach to life.

So, Happy Birthday Pippi – you’ve given so much with your larger than life personality, your pigtails, your stomping nature. May we all live as impulsively and free.

“If I have managed to brighten up even one gloomy childhood – than I’m satisfied.”

Astrid Lindgren