When I bought tickets for the theatre adaption of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s The Snail And The Whale, I did not expect to be given a soaking from a water pistol. But then again I don’t think Harry Potter expected to battle a Hungarian Horntail dragon at 14 years old. See, that’s the thing with adventures – the best ones are always the ones that involve unusual events or unexpected twists. And there was plenty of that at St James’ theatre today…
Tall Stories (creators of the Gruffalo and Room on the Broom stage shows) have collaborated with award-winning picture book author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler. Their story of a tiny snail that longs to see the world and hitches a lift on the tail of a humpback whale has been magically translated to the stage. Follow the tiny snail’s amazing journey, as seen through the eyes of an adventurous young girl and her seafaring father… The snail has enough courage to ride the high seas but will it have enough wisdom to save the whale when it gets beached? Click here for a sneak preview.
Outside St James’ Theatre there were gigantic cranes, huge construction sites and manic Christmas shoppers, but inside the theatre was a small pocket of magic (like being underneath the Upside Down tree in Hyde Park while mad people are running around outside in silly leggings or walking miniature dogs)… Within moments of the play starting, the characters came alive, carrying us with them to ‘shimmering stars and coral caves, shooting stars and enormous waves.’ A violinist cracked out seagulls’ squawks so sharp we could almost see the birds flapping in the wind – and just to make sure the whole audience could picture the grey-blue humpback whale, we were pelted with its spray. Cue the water pistols…
The comic timing was brilliant and the set fantastic (clever clever whale-making tricks and WHAT an explosive volcano…) but above all, the play’s magic lay in its power of imaginative storytelling, almost as if the whole cast had heard what author Phillip Pullman once said, ‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.’ So drop into St James’ Theatre for a Christmas treat – it’s perfect for 4+ years and it’s on until 5th January. See Moontrug Events for more details, and in keeping with the snail and the whale’s adventures, Moontrug has dug out five of the best adventure books out there right now – so go on, dive right in!
Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes (10+ years)
Meet the Rat: a dancing, football-playing gangster-baiting ten-year-old. When she foresees her father’s death, she picks up her football and decides to head for New York. Meet her older brother, Bob: protector of the Rat, but more often her follower. Bob is determined to find their uncle in America and discover a new life for them both but neither Bob nor the Rat could ever have foreseen what would happen along the way… The book makes you want to jump up and sing or to leap off and fly! Wonderfully funny but moving, too.
Click here to buy on amazon
If you liked this book, you may also like: Holes by Louis Sachar.
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (9+ years)
Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck which left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. Her guardian tells her it is almost impossible that her mother is still alive, but that means still possible. You should never ignore a possible. So when the Welfare Agency writes to her guardian threatening to send Sophie to an orphanage, she takes matters into her own hands and flees to Paris to look for her mother, starting with the only clue she has – the address of the cello maker. Evading the French authorities, she meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers – urchins who live in the sky. Together they scour the city for Sophie’s mother before she is caught and sent back to London, and most importantly before she loses hope.
Click here to buy on amazon
If you liked this book, you may also like: Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge.
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge (9+ years)
In a cut-throat world of highwaymen, spies and smugglers, and insane rulers in silly wigs, runaway Mosca Mye and her goose companion have uncovered a dark plot winging its way towards the city. Soon mischief and mayhem will lead to murder… Frances Hardinge’s breathtaking debut novel has at its heart an inspiring truth – that the power of books can change the world. Fly By Night is one such book.
Click here to buy it on amazon
If you liked this book, you may also like: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
The Last Wild by Piers Torday (9+ years)
This is the story of a boy named Kester. He is extraordinary, but he doesn’t know that yet. All he knows, at this very moment, is this:
1. There is a flock of excited pigeons in his bedroom
2. They are talking to him
3. His life will never be quite the same again
A fast-paced adventure with totally brilliant characters. Look out for wolf-cub and the white pigeon – they’re moontrug’s favs.
Click here to buy it on amazon
If you liked this book, you may also like: Watership Down by Richard Adams
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (9+ years)
Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He’s been practising all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side and outruns everyone. That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. A story of remarkable richness and depth – beautifully written.