This is a precious, funny and yet dark tale of a young girl with Dickensian shades of Oliver, Roald Dahl’s the Twits and Cinderella yet has a beautiful quality of its own especially thanks to the author’s interplay between the stories and the exquisite Illustrations.
I was delighted to win a copy of this book with picture of my own magical place which is our garden, and this book was a lovely surprise capturing a magic about children’s books and the incredible power of the barest touch of colour can reduce a grown up to tears.
And yes that cover really is that beautiful, the golden yellow is all gilding and so it really glows!!
Clementine thinks her name is ‘Oiya’ because that’s what Aunt Vermilia and Uncle Rufus call her. She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t scrubbing and clearing up after them, or locked in one basement or another whilst they went to ‘work’ or ‘shopping’ and they did seem to move around quite a lot.
But Clementine dreams of a better place, one with rolling heather moors and a happy loving home, she calls it her magic place.
One day after a particularly disastrous evening involving the cat, Aunt Vermilia, a bucket of coal and a blunderbuss Clementine is not locked in the basement but is left alone to clear up the mess which leads to a toy Bunny, a window and a series of disastrous but very entertaining events.
The Magic Place certainly isn’t a rainbows and unicorns kind of story, and there is no magic-magic, unless you count a particularly clever cat, but there is something stirring about Clementine’s story, you will her to escape, to succeed and you want her to find even a scraping of happiness in her wretched life.
The dastardly duo Aunt Vermilia and Uncle Rufus are ingeniously created to be both despicable yet ridiculous too. They are completely moronic in one situation then have the underhandedness to evade detection in another- this duality gives Chris Wormell much room to play and because it’s a children’s book, and children are incredibly astute observers of adults it is natural to believe this dichotomy of awesomely sneaky but astoundingly stupid, scatterbrained but sly without question. And that is part of the magic of this book, and it is infectiously funny too.
The way that Wormell slips between illustration and text and interlinked them to propel the plot or hide references within in the narrative is extremely clever with the illustrations and text having a symbiotic relationship in places like a picture book can- and throughout the power of the illustrations may be underestimated until you find the yellow (don’t cheat, wait for it)- and I, a grown woman, burst into tears.
It is Dickensian in places, but is also very funny, there is horrendous abuse of Clementine as a child slave but there is also such sweet hope throughout, this is a clever book that is beautiful to read by itself but also could link into study different contexts from the Victorian/Industrial City to consideration of child rights this book offers a lot of scope for discussion.
Overall, this is such a beautiful book inside and out to add to any collection, a stirring and emotionally rich read and I am incredibly thankful and grateful to David Fickling Books for picking me to read this amazing book.
The Magic Place by Chris Wormell is published by David Fickling Books.
Thank you so much for my copy 💜