The Magic World of Fiction

Tired of your daily diet of news? Want to escape into the world of fantasy? Hamilton Wende’s Arabella, The Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut and Arabella, The Secret King and the Amulet from Timbuktu are just the right books for you to do that. Wende has created a unique South African tale about a little girl called Arabella who lives both in the real world and in the magic one.

In Arabella, The Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut Arabella’s happy home life in Johannesburg is tragically altered by the death of her father to cancer. At around the same time Arabella meets some unusual characters who teach her how to enter the world of magic. Wonder of wonders Arabella turns into a butterfly, learns to fly and befriends a bunch of insects in her garden. But even in the magic world there are difficulties and Arabella, together with her insect friends, is called upon to use her newfound powers to defeat a dark enemy intent on taking over the world.

Wende cleverly intersects Arabella’s real world with her magic one, making both worlds credible. In the two realities Arabella is required to learn, grow, be brave, make good choices and deal with adversity. Her adventures in magic are a delightful vehicle for young readers to grapple with their own struggles. The story is full of tongue-in-cheek humour, too. The fearful foe is a hadeda called Ozymandias (after the character in a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem), and one of Arabella’s insect friends is none other than – the normally vilified – Parktown Prawn!

In the second book, Arabella, The Secret King and the Amulet from Timbuktu Arabella’s adventures take her to Knysna where she meets some clacking oysters, slow-swimming seahorses and noble elephants. Wende’s use of animals big and small in his tales has the effect of placing his protagonist in the larger web of life.

In this story, as in book one, Arabella lives in two worlds. Her problems at school and with friends grow steadily worse. At the same time she is desperately needed in the magic realm to defeat a terrible monster called Krakobek. Apart from this crocodile-cum-hyena-cum-scorpion beast, most of the characters in book two exhibit both good and bad traits. In other words, they are relatable to readers.

What is special about the Arabella stories is that they are ‘very consciously South African and non-racial’. Wende uses names and characters that reflect a range of South African characters, and give a deep humanity to all.

‘I had a deep desire to reflect the good things in South Africa,’ said Wende when I interviewed him. I think he has done just that in these two Arabella stories. I’m delighted, as will be fans of the well-received books, that Wende is busy on book three. ‘I owe it to myself to make it a trilogy,’ he said.

Hooray! I look forward to Arabella three, Hamilton Wende! The Arabella books are suitable for tweens, retail at R170 each and can be purchased at all good book stores or online at www.clockworkbooks.co.za.

 

 

Mr Peabody and Sherman – an animation for adults too

A review by Brenda Daniels

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a clever, funny, children’s animated adventure film. It contains fun science fiction elements, historic and educational features, and a modern setting with relationships. The 3D format makes for enjoyable viewing.

Based on a 1960s animated TV series, the story features an impossibly intelligent little dog as the title character, Mr. Peabody. Sherman is Mr. Peabody’s (human) adopted son. A scientist extraordinaire, Mr. Peabody has invented a time machine which he and Sherman use to visit past eras.

So we see them making a trip to an anti-royalist France and to ancient Troy and Egypt. They meet famous people like Marie Antoinette, Leonardo da Vinci, and many more. These excursions provide a wealth of education for Sherman, and the audience, and are a source of clever humour adults will pick up on.

Far from being a socially inept genius, however, Mr. Peabody is also into hip hop dancing, sword fighting, cocktail mixing – you name it; he can do it. And when it comes to looking after his son, Mr. Peabody is just as “human” as the rest of us. He worries about Sherman attending school for the first time. In fact it’s on Sherman’s first day at school that the story really begins.

After a rather sorry encounter with a mean school girl called Penny, Sherman and his dad are launched into an exciting adventure. The ensuing action sees them battling a collision of the past and present, dealing with modern school politics and personalities, and facing off the complications in their own relationship.

The film is rated PG and runs for an entertaining one and a half hours. As an adult I thoroughly enjoyed the clever humour and original mix of genres. Older children who like something a little meaty will enjoy the educational aspects, parcelled as they are in adventure and funny relationships. Very little children will miss the meaning in the dialogue.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman opens today, 20 March, at NuMetro cinemas (3D) in South Africa.

Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons