THE MALONEYS’ MAGICAL WEATHERBOX by Nigel Quinlan

Moontrug has always believed phone boxes are magical so she was very excited to learn that children’s author, Nigel Quinlan, thinks so too – so much so that he decided to write a book about one…

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Neil and Liz Maloney’s dad is a Weatherman – but not the boring kind you see on TV. He’s the person who makes sure the seasons change every year. This year, though, the Autumn hasn’t arrived and the weather is spiralling out of control. Can Neil and Liz stop the chaos before it’s literally the end of the world?

 

Moontrug loved the imaginative scope of the book, the idea that weather is controlled by Weathermen, Weathermages and Shieldsmen, that rain can be multi-coloured and hail can be golfball sized – and if the seasons are disturbed, stalled or even stolen, the repercussions are huge… Neil and Liz are fabulous lead characters and Moontrug especially liked super feisty Liz with her bow and arrow: ‘I’m a Shieldsman and the man at the end is just short for woman‘ and ‘I had my bow in my hand, arrows in my belt, war paint on my face and crow feathers in my hair.’

 

Quinlan’s narrative voice is brilliantly original and he offers the reader some fantastic comedy in tourist, Ed: ‘Nobody hurt too badly, I hope? Nobody…turned into anything? Er…or…eaten?’ His life motto had Moontrug chuckling: ‘Keep the diesel topped up, and walk your dragon at least once a day or he’ll burn your whole rig, trailer and all’ and the fact that he remembers to carry a permit for his sword is awesome.

 

Quinlan mixes old Irish magic – hags and bogbeasts which, when ridden, feel like ‘riding a bag of angry stoats’ – with a contemporary twist: Celtic ninja warriors and Lady Gaga’s greatest hits. And at the heart of the plot are some truly mean villains: bully Hugh who conducts terrifying orchestras of new seasons – and outwardly beautiful, inwardly awful Mrs Fitzgerald. ‘The Maloneys’ Magical Weatherbox’ is a fabulously quirky and imaginative story for 8+ years infused with wit and Irish magic.

THE D’EVIL DIARIES by Tatum Flynn

The D’Evil Diaries by Tatum Flynn had been on Moontrug’s radar for some time – she’d seen preview chapters and sample illustrations by Dave Shephard (both brilliant) and the author herself is one of the funniest people Moontrug knows on Twitter – then finally Moontrug got around to reading it this month. And what a debut it is!

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It’s not Jinx D’Evil’s fault he’s a useless demon – but that’s a bit of a problem when you’re Lucifer’s youngest son. So Jinx runs away, and he hasn’t gone far when he discovers a conspiracy which could destroy the entire underworld. Now the fate of Hell rests in the hands of its most unlikely demon – and a human girl who shouldn’t be there at all…

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Flynn’s narrative voice is immediately compelling, mixing made up words (‘mammothly’ and ‘brontosaurusly’) with totally unique world building. Within a few chapters characters find themselves hurled into Frozen Forests, the Fields of the Damned, the Valley of Despair, the Desert of Deception and the Caves of Wrath. Flynn skilfully uses each setting to develop her characters and children will love imagining the fictional world expand as they read.

 

Lucifer is a fabulously drawn character: ‘Now get out of my sight. I’ve got 16 species to make extinct by lunchtime, and I need to work on my golf swing.’ And his relationship with Persephone is hilarious in its satirical references to Greek mythology. Indeed Flynn’s juxtaposition of chaos breaking out in Hell and Lucifer holidaying with Persephone on Earth (‘lying on a lilo in a pair of swimming trunks with little ducks on them, sipping a Pina Colada’) is so funny.

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But at the heart of the book is Jinx, Lucifer’s hopelessly ‘unevil’ son who accidentally emails half of Europe kitten GIFS instead of a killer virus in ICT. At the beginning of the book he lacks confidence and feels alienated but by the end he has saved Heaven, Hell and Earth and made a friend in the adorable Tommy. And it was perhaps this relationship that Moontrug felt gave the book such a heart. Tommy is vulnerable and sad but she is also feisty and funny – and she’s just what Jinx needs as a sidekick and friend. Together they make up a formidable (and humorous) duo. The book boasts some truly original magical creatures: deadly carousel horses, witches, Hell vultures, kravons – and that’s not even mentioning one of Moontrug’s favourite characters, Loiter the Giant Sloth. And coupled with stunning illustrations by Dave Shepard, The D’Evil Diaries is a cracking read for 8+ years exploding with adventure, magic and laughs. The sequel, Hell’s Belles is out in January 2016 and Moontrug can’t wait to see where Jinx and Tommy adventure to next…

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