Michele Clark McConnochie’s first children’s novel, The Uncooperative Flying Carpet, will not only appeal to tweenagers but also to their parents. There is so much to like about this book: the wry humour and sense of fun throughout make the story a joy to read, and I think it would work well as a read-aloud story, as well as one for children to read to themselves. Also, the print version of the book is available for dyslexic readers – a definite plus.
The main characters – Sabrina, her younger brother Rory, Sabrina’s best friend Persis, and Sabrina’s schoolyard enemy Olive – are modern kids who respond to their unexpected (and rather undignified) arrival in the strange land of Dralfynia with a realistic blend of disbelief and stoicism, together with a good dose of common sense. The children, and the cast of goodies and baddies that they meet in Dralfynia, are all portrayed by the author with clarity and humour.
We first glimpse Sabrina and Rory in their hometown of Melas, where they are attending the marriage of their dad to their new stepmother, Bridget, who is not all she seems. Almost immediately the story cuts to Dralfynia, where the children are mystified to find themselves in a different land, dressed as characters from well-known fairy-tales (and accompanied by a flatulent unicorn!). As the novel progresses, the back-story emerges, so we find out how and why they wound up in Dralfynia. The children’s adventures are usually funny, scary – or both – and the pace is well-judged: never a dull moment, but with time to take in what is happening.
Plenty of imagination and thought have gone into this book. It doesn’t take itself seriously, but it does give young readers a chance to reflect on how they might respond to the challenges the children face both in the real world and in Dralfynia. And the good news is that there are two more books in the series: Saga 2, The Uncomfortable Glass Slipper (already available to read) and Saga 3, The Uncontrollable Slingshot (out soon).