Book Review: Fleur Hitchcock – The Boy Who Flew

We are transported back to the days of the Industrial Revolution when new and glorious items were being invented. Athan likes helping Mr Chen, a Chinese inventor who lives nearby. They are building a flying machine. For Athan, who spends nights up on the rooftops of the city with his mate, Tod, this is a dream he wants to follow. But Mr Chen is killed by others wanting to steal his ideas and plans. When they discover Athan might know more, they start to attack his family. Will Athan ever fly?

A wonderful collection of characters including a great malevolent Grandma, Athan’s sister, Beatie who is handicapped and his weak mother, trying to keep her family together, while being dominated by Grandma and outside forces.

The descriptions of the city are great and the story literally flies along at a pace.

I have to say I had a lump in my throat at the end.

Book Review – Jasbinder Bilan – Asha and the Spirit Bird

Asha and her family live in the foothills of the Himalayas. Her father has gone to work in  the big city, to earn more money for his family. But nothing has been heard from him for months. No money has arrived and debt collectors are bullying Asha’s mother. Asha and her best friend Jeevan decide they have to do something and that involves finding her father. Armed with an address in the big city, they run away, to travel to the temple at the head of the Ganges, to pray for help and then on to the big city. It isn’t an easy journey, but they have help in the form of a lamagaia, a bearded vulture, which Asha believes is the spirit of her grandmother,  who has passed away.

Full of adventures including a close encounter with a snow tiger, this is a wonderful debut novel. The descriptions of the Himalayas, from the foothills to the temple at Karase, the noisy chaos of the big city, Zanapur, all come together beautifully.

Jasbinder Bilan is a graduate of the wonderful creative writing MA at Bath spa university.

I can remember her coming into the children’s library in Bath a few years ago and telling me she was starting a new adventure at Bath Spa University and going to take an MA in creative writing. Well that adventure has created Asha and Javeen and brought us the smells and colours of Asha’s mother’s cooking.