Lyn Gardner is a theater critic for The Guardian and goes to the theater five or six nights a week, which should leave no time for writing books at all. Prior to joining The Guardian, she was a tea lady, a waitress, sold (or failed to sell) advertising space for a magazine called Sludge, wrote for The Independent, and helped found the London listings magazine, City Limits, the largest publishing co-op in Europe. Mini Grey's last picture book, Traction Man Is Here!, won the 2005 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and received five starred reviews.
First-time novelist Gardner reinvents the Pied Piper story, imbuing it with plenty of charm. Storm lives with her parents, absent-minded dreamers who "had simply used up all their love on each other and had none left to spare for her." Older sister Aurora is the de facto head of the house and they are soon joined by baby sister Any (short for Anything). On her deathbed, Storm's mother gives her a tin pipe, with an admonition to "use it wisely and only if you have desperate need." Meanwhile, the villagers are fed up with a profusion of rats, and a sinister man named Dr. DeWilde is called in to solve the problem. Before long, Dr. DeWilde shows up at the girls' house-where they now live alone, their father having fled the scene-demanding the pipe, which Storm refuses to relinquish. The girls escape into the woods where a series of misadventures separates them from Any; they learn that their sister is being taken to Piper's Peak, where children "become slaves in the Piper's kingdom." As the girls attempt to rescue Any, Storm learns the pipe's real value, and the doom it would spell should it fall into the evil doctor's hands. Gardner has crafted a fast-paced and entertaining adventure filled with cheeky humor and wordplay; even if the book's playful tone precludes the possibility of a dread ending, it's a blast of a journey. Ages 8-12. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-7-Lyn Gardner's delightful fantasy adventure (David Fickling Books, 2007) combines many elements from classic fairy tales and heroic quest stories. Three sisters have been left on their own at their family's dilapidated estate after the death of their mother and the departure of their father. Aurora, the eldest, is steadfast and domestic; Storm, the middle child, is wild, wily, and headstrong; and Anything is sweet and talkative. The girls are forced to flee into the woods when evil Dr. DeWilde and his bloodthirsty pack of wolves arrive on their doorstep searching for a musical pipe with unknown magical powers that was left to Storm by her mother. In the woods, the sisters encounter a house made of sweets, a boy with two different colored eyes, and a diamond mine full of child slaves. Listeners will recognize elements from Sleeping Beauty, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Hansel and Gretel, and other stories in this thrilling tale full of courageous escapades. Phyllida Nash's lovely British accent is the perfect accompaniment to this entrancing, suspenseful story. Recommend it to fans of Shrek movies and retold fairy tale authors Donna Jo Napoli and Sarah Beth Durst.-Casey Rondini, East Windsor Middle School, CT Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.