The Uprising: the Mapmakers of Cruxcia by Eirlys Hunter

The first thing to say about this book is that it is the sequel to “The Mapmakers’ Race”, which makes this a very exciting prospect indeed.  For those who have not read the first book, it follows the adventures of the four Santander children as they go in search of their explorer father, who has disappeared on his latest expedition.  They undertake a gruelling challenge called the “Mapmakers’ Race”, hoping to win enough money to continue their search.  Despite dastardly competitors (not quite Whacky Races) they actually win and thanks to some teasing information they start out on a new adventure.

Gecko Press, 9781776574049

In “The Uprising”, the quartet of Sal, Joe, Francis and Humphrey are joined by their mother, as they follow their information to the small community of Cruxcia.  They find that the area is under threat from a gigantic corporation called the Grania Trading Corporation, who have already appointed the local governor and want to take over the whole of the valley around the local mountain.  The family find themselves in danger from the agents of the corporation, as well as from very unscrupulous map makers, who we met in the first book.  As they begin to uncover the machinations of the giant corporation, the Santanders find themselves helping the local people who are trying to save their homes and land from the outsiders.  Their adventures take us on a helter skelter ride as they face dangers that are both natural and also man-made, so hang on to your hats as we follow these intrepid mapmakers.

I am delighted to say that Eirlys Hunter has written this fascinating insight into her longing for adventure and how it was often thwarted by the adults in her life, when she was a child.  This is probably why her heroes are able to go off and have adventures, sharing them with others of a similar age.  This is yet another fantastically exciting  story as the children continue their quest and find themselves getting closer to finding their father.

Searching for adventure

When I was young, I liked reading about families, and I liked reading about children who were competent. Who knew about motorbikes, or how to care for horses, who sailed boats, put on plays, or acted in films. Most of all, the children in my favourite books managed to have adventures, adventures that rarely involved adults, and never involved parents. 

My sister and I wanted to have adventures more than anything. We lived in London, it should have been possible, but we just didn’t know how to go about it. Once, we persuaded our mother to drive us a long way from home and leave us to get back on our own with just our pocket money. It was exciting to be in an unknown street, miles from anywhere familiar, but then we turned round the first corner and there was the tube station by our mother’s work. We were home in less than an hour. Why did we go on the tube instead of, say, seeing where the first bus that came along would take us? Tragic.

We got our father to drop us at the head of the loch one holiday, with our expedition’s provisions. It was a four-mile walk along a straight road beside the loch to get back to Granny’s house, but long before we got there, the old Ford Consul pulled up and our father insisted we hop in.

We had our last stab at adventure the summer holiday I was thirteen. My sister and I left the campsite in the Italian Alps where we were staying with our parents. We said we were going for a walk, but we didn’t mention that we were going to try to touch the snow that we could see high above the valley. We climbed for hours, desperate for adventure. Then we touched the dirty old snow, and walked all the way back down the endless zigzag path to the tent. Our mother was beside herself – certain that something terrible must have happened. It was all so disappointing. It would have been so much more exciting if we’d been in a book.

I never managed to have an adventure when I was a child, but I nowadays I can invent children, write about them, and give them adventures. And the first thing I always do, is get rid of the parents. And if you read The Mapmakers books you’ll find out how I turned that disappointing hike to touch snow into a proper adventure.   

The Uprising: The Mapmakers in Cruxcia is out now in paperback (£7.99, Gecko Press)

 

 

Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas by Anna Rainbow and Oli Hyatt

This is the second book about Pirates that I have had the pleasure of reading in the last few months.  this one is aimed at a slightly older audience, age 8 years and above and definitely makes it onto the reading list for “Talk like a Pirate” day.

Tiggy (short for Antigua) wants to lead a life of adventure and perhaps even be a pirate.  She wants to spend time down by the harbour with her friends Marina and Felipe, but unfortunately, she is a young lady and has to wear long dresses and even attend her first dance at the Governor’s Ball.

During the celebrations to commemorate the freeing of the town’s boys, based around  a legend about the ‘Pirate King’ who had taken all the boys and turned them into Sea Golems in the distant past, history seems to repeat itself.   A band of sinister pirates and a giant squid, attack the island and make off with all of the young boys, including Tiggy’s younger brother; she and her friends decide to try and free the captives.  Mysterious mental messages from a mermaid and the fact that Tiggy’s friend Marina is the daughter of a Selkie helps them in their quest.    Importantly,  how can this threat be defeated?

Although there is no real location for the island on which they live, the authors have very strongly given the setting a feel of the Caribbean, but with strong links to Spain, with the use of Madre and Padre  as well as some of the characters’ names.  They have created a world that we can associate with, but which has magical elements that weave a wonderful  and complex place.  You can absolutely feel the heat and hear the sounds of the busy Caribbean Port, together with the rich diversity of characters that are found there.

This is a roller coaster of a story in which the Swash has never before been so Buckled!  It is a fantastic story for the KS2 reader and gives the opportunity to explore themes such as identity, belonging, family, as well as folk tales and legends.  There are wonderfully strong characters, so that this book will appeal to both girls and boys.  It is also a great starting point for some very creative art and writing.  I definitely hope that we will see some more adventures for Antigua and her friends.  Thank you to Anna for this short post that she has given, sharing the background to the Selkie theme that is so important in the book.

 

An introduction to Selkies

By Anna Rainbow

One of the oceanic myths of particular interest to Oli and me was that of the selkie. Unlike the better known mermaid, who is permanently a human with a fish tail, the selkie is a shapeshifter, most commonly a woman who can exist as a seal in water, and then upon shedding her seal skin, change into a human form on land.

A main theme of our book was trying to reconnect landlubbers with the ocean, and promoting the synergy between land and sea, so the selkie seemed to encapsulate this theme perfectly — a person (or a seal) who could live in and enjoy both environments. Someone who values both habitats equally is far less likely to dump plastics in the waves and destroy marine life with pollution.

But it wasn’t just this that fascinated us, it was the dark feminist twist on the tale, something we weren’t aware of before we started our research. A common tale about Selkies is that should a man steal her selkie skin, he can make her his bride. Perhaps symbolic of the power, the identity and freedom, taken from women when they become a wife, especially in the olden days. Or perhaps even deeper, the power taken from women they are born into a patriarchal society.

It was therefore important to us that the Selkies in our story were strong women who kept hold of their seal skins. It is no coincidence that Gabriella, a well known Selkie and Mother to Antigua’s best friend, Marina, is a single Mother who has kept her powers. On the flip side, woman generally don’t give their power away, it is stolen by men, so it was equally important that the men in our book did not steal our Selkie’s skin.

That is not to say that all men steal women’s power, of course not, but Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas is a feminist book, with a strong female lead who rescues all the boys of her island, and we wanted this reflected in our mythology too. It was important to us that we invented a world where Selkies keep hold of their own skin, and men don’t attempt to steal it.

ANTIGUA DE FORTUNE OF THE HIGH SEAS by Anna Rainbow and Oli Hyatt is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

 

About Oli Hyatt & Anna Rainbow
ANNA RAINBOW grew up and still lives in North East England and works as a Clinical Psychologist with people with disabilities. Anna loves music and has always been in various choirs, singing quartets, bands, and orchestras. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition which led to Chicken House publishing The Fandom, her series for young adults (as Anna Day) – it sold in 24 territories and was optioned for TV development by Fox. This is her debut middle-grade novel.  Find out more at annadaybooks.com and follow her on twitter @annadayauthor

OLI HYATT is based in Kings Sutton and is the co-founder of BAFTA award-winning animation studio Blue Zoo. He is also the Director of Alphablocks Limited, the company behind the popular CBeebies phonics shows, Alphablocks and Numberblocks. He is also the chair of Animation UK and was awarded an MBE for his services to the animation industry. This is Oli’s debut novel. Follow Oli on twitter @HyattOli

Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas is Oli and Anna’s first co-authored book together.

The Eye of Mogdrod by Derek Keilty and Mark Elvins

There is something quite fascinating about pirates and even ex-pirates; the stories have been sparking  the imagination of readers both young and old for many years.  As a child my first encounter with the idea was watching episodes of ‘Captain Pugwash’ on the television and then later on discovering the wonders of ‘Treasure Island’.  If I thought really hard about it, I am sure that there were other pirates in books, but I definitely remember those to be found in the swashbuckling adventures of actors such as Errol Flynn and Burt Lancaster; Sunday afternoon was full of old films that kept us happy on a cold winter’s day.  Today we have the whole range of films such as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘The Goonies’, as well as a host of books for all ages.  As a librarian for a School Library Service I was constantly being asked for collections of titles about pirates and whilst there are lot of amazing titles about real-life buccaneers, it is also fantastic to be able to create imaginary worlds with a wide range of characters.  This would definitely have been part of my collection at work..

Flyntlock Bones is the unlikely hero of this series for all serious wannabee pirates.  He is the cabin boy aboard the vessel “The Black Hound” , but the crew are not what you might expect.  They are all ex-pirates and have become ‘Pirate Investigators’ who help retrieve stolen treasure.  This second adventure sees them asked to retrieve a precious gold goblet that has been stolen from Fergus McSwaggers, the chief of one of the clans in the Boglands; the only problem is that he is the brother of the cook on board the ‘Black Hound’ and they have not spoken for quite a while.  The plot deepens as they try and discover who has stolen the goblet.  The consensus is that it was probably a giant cat-like creature called the Mogdrod, that is feared but rarely seen and is said to love shiny things.  When Flyntlock, his friend Red and the rest of the crew are captured by Gretel the Sea Witch, they discover that Mogdrod is her ‘Kitty’ and that she had taken the goblet.  To further complicate the story, the treasure is then taken by the Ice Pirates and it is up to the crew to rescue it again.

This is a fantastic and very funny story for the young reader, who is just growing in confidence.  The author has this real ability to make even the most fantastic of stories seem real.  His previous series about an elfling sky cowboy called Will Gallows has been a favourite of mine for a few years now.  As you can see from the images, Mark Elvin has produced the most amazing illustrations that bring the story to life and which are so intricate that the reader can spend quite a bit of time working their way through all of the detail.

I was delighted to be asked to join in the celebrations for the launch of this brilliant book and I look forward to reading further adventures in the future.

If you love this story as much as I did, why not read some more pirate adventures and take part on “Talk Like a Pirate day” on Sunday 19th September this year.

 

Derek Keilty

Meet the author

Derek KeiltyDerek Keilty lives in Belfast and is the author of over ten books for children. His work has been translated into many different languages, selected for the Richard and Judy Club and shortlisted for the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year.

 

Mark Elvins Personal website

Derek KeiltyMark Elvins lives in Yorkshire. When he’s not drawing pirates he’s a print-maker and recently won an English Heritage competition to illustrate the displays at Whitby Abbey.

what’s on the top of the book pile?

With half term fast approaching, I am starting to look at sorting my reading pile for the break.  At the moment there is “Dodger” by Terry Pratchett, “Oblivion” by Anthony Horowitz, “Four children and It” by Jacqueline Wilson and those are just the big names.  So look out for what I think about them after the break.  I will also be looking at the shortlisted titles for the Centurion book award, which means I will have to spend some time sitting in a comfy chair – it’s hard, but someone has to do it!