Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Travelling Restaurant: Jasper’s Voyage in Three Parts by Barbara Else, Gecko Press I’ve been tossing round words like quaint and quirky and original – they all apply to this light-hearted fantasy set in a country called Fontania. Twelve-year-old Jasper Ludlow is suddenly bundled away with his family on to a sailing ship but unfortunately he is left behind – with no idea what’s going on or what caused the panic. He manages to get aboard a peculiar circular multi-coloured ship called The Travelling Restaurant, crewed by a secretive young woman and captained by a gruff elderly man. Weird things start happening as TTR sails eastwards to re-unite Jasper with his family. Non-stop adventures ensue – involving a wicked, witchy woman who is determined to become queen, a missing baby, pirates, monkeys, spying seagulls, an unreliable uncle, a magical dragon-eagle – and a whole lot more. The book is excellently presented by Gecko Press, with an eye-catching cover, cover flaps which unfold to reveal two maps (very useful), and even a postcard to use as a bookmark. The writing is lively and the plot inventive but it’s a solid read that will appeal mostly to smart readers of intermediate age who don’t mind tackling something a bit different. To be released in April. ISBN 978 1 877467 77 6 RRP $24.99 Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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