Tag Archive | fiction

The Avion My Uncle Flew

avion

‘The Avion My Uncle Flew’ by Cyrus Fisher, 1946

I have been meaning to review this book for ages, as it was definitely a family favourite, and probably our top literature choice of 2015.

The book was recommended to us by a friend as a super way to introduce the French language at the same time as studying the post-war period through children’s historical fiction.

The story is written in such a clever way – the main character is sent to his uncle’s village in France to convalesce and recover after breaking his leg back home in America, and strikes a deal with his parents that, if he manages to be walking again and if he has learned to speak French by the end of the summer, they will get him a fancy new bicycle.

Johnny stays with his uncle in a boarding house in the village because their home had been destroyed in the war, but the uncle is working on making an aeroplane of his own design, to reverse their fortunes, and so he does what he can to help as his leg improves.

So as we follow the story of his recovery, we also follow his learning the language. We start off by learning the odd single word in a sentence, and by the end of the book there are whole pages in French.

In addition, the story is interwoven with a spy mystery and adventure as Johnny discovers that not all is as it seems in the sleepy French village in the mountains.

“Seldom do we find so happy a combination of charm of
Style, local color, humor and thumping good adventure as is set forth in this tale.” – School Library Journal

Lots of fun! Highly recommended as a read-aloud.

Advertisements

Moon Child

harvest-fullmoon-stonehenge

Just a quick post to tell you a little bit about my new NaNoWriMo project this year.

I am writing what is evolving to be a mixture of murder mystery, adventure and tragic love story, all set at the end of the neolithic age, and covers the height and breadth of Britain, and of course it does feature some of the most prominent neolithic sites such as Stonehenge.

“The high king of Albion is murdered, and his daughter must solve the mystery, apprehend the murderer and sacrifice her greatest love to take on the mantle of her father to lead her people into a new era.”

I am taking rather a lot of liberties, and now that I know what it is, it might even qualify as ‘speculative’ fiction, since I am speculating that the people of the late neolithic age allowed almost equal status to women as to men, that these people were basically Celtic, though from an earlier wave of Celtic immigration than the Celts we know, and that they remembered their ancestors right back to Noah and the Ark. So I am using the traditional names and ideas from Geoffrey of Monmouth and others of the early inhabitants being known as the Samotheans, after their founder Samothea, and the island being known as Albion after the ‘giant’ who invaded the island but who was later defeated.

It is obviously not a ‘Christian’ novel, as it pre-dates the Christian era considerably, and it has quite a different feel to the novel that I wrote in 2012, which was very religious in content by the end of it, but that really was a cathartic process for me and included autobiographical elements – the loss of babies, moving to a new land, the depths of disappointment and despair and finding hope and new meaning and purpose in God. (That last part, to be honest, was rather speculative itself.) I did not like that book when Nanowrimo was finished, and I have not yet gone back to edit or complete it; actually I suspect it may need a complete re-drafting, and I have never showed anybody what I wrote. It was just a little bit too deeply personal and painful.

This time, hopefully, I am writing a book I would enjoy reading. It has the similar themes of tragedy and triumph, but this time I hope to enjoy the adventure a bit more.

I am downplaying the pagan elements, so it may not appeal to everyone – there is no human sacrifice, nor do the people worship the celestial bodies. These are a people who know that the sun and moon are created bodies, that there is a creator, but they know nothing of him. I also speculate that these early people did, contrary to accepted notions, have a written language, but that they used leather to write on and therefore we have no record.

So anyway, I am having a bit of fun with pre-history, basically.

I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that I won’t have time to post regular updates on how I’m doing, though I may post again at the midpoint, and I will be posting word updates to twitter.

Here is a little excerpt, to give you a taster. After the murderer has committed the main murder, he then goes on to kill both the witnesses:

“Almost instinctively, he had reached for his dagger and had slain the second man before he had even consciously known that he had the dagger in his hand. But now Zaidar had lain Franek down, covering his eyes one final time, and stood to face the foe. The two men stood still for a moment, opposing each other in the moonlight, and the stranger knew at that moment that he had a choice – if he allowed this man to run and raise the alarm at the settlement, he would have no hope, no chance, no future. He knew that he only had one choice: kill the man and escape.”

Let me know what you think! Are you Nano-ing? What is your genre?