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BOOK REVIEWS, Early/Young Readers, Fairy/Folk/Tall Tale, Fantasy, Humor, Read-Aloud Suggestions


TollinsTollins are not fairies.  Though they both have wings, fairies are delicate creatures and much smaller….In addition, fairies cannot sing B-sharp….Tollins regard fairies as fluttery show-offs and occasionally use them to wipe out the insides of cups.  Tollins are also a lot less fragile than fairies.  In fact, the word “fragile” can’t really be used about them at all.  They are about as fragile as a housebrick.

So begins Tollins:  Explosive Tales for Children. The book is divided into three stories:  How to Blow Up Tollins, Sparkler and the Purple Death and Windbags and Dark Tollins.  Each of these stories is in turn divided into chapters, making this an excellent read-aloud in classrooms or at home.

The main character is a Tollin named Sparkler who, due to being exploited by humans at a fireworks factory, becomes a scientist, determined to provide humans with an alternative to using Tollins as fireworks. Sparkler’s stories are a unique mix of sweetness and tongue-in-cheek humor which will appeal to young children and adults alike.

Sparkler’s ingenuity and determination are inspiring.  Iggulden’s ironic touches (particularly relating to the fairies, who are NOT treated well by the Tollins, who seem oblivious to this fact) and clever wordplay add a dimension to the stories that elevate them above a traditional children’s story of fairy-like creatures.  Lizzy Duncan’s illustrations are quirky and an absolutely perfect complement to the theme and tone of the stories.  The Tollins are depicted in purples and dark reds with a slightly old-fashioned quality and hysterically funny facial expressions.

There is much to be savored in Tollins.  I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience with these characters and their adventures and encourage anyone who enjoys a story for the sake of a good story and a good laugh to grab a copy!


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