Bored with his normal life, John Carroll runs away with his faithful cat in search of adventure. When he meets a real-life pirate, John realizes there is much more to the world than he'd ever thought possible - magic is real, and in desperate need of a hero.
John must convince the (once fearsome) Captain Simon Peabody to join him on a fantastic and perilous quest to find the only person who can save magic from being lost forever: the Caretaker of Imagination.
I gave this book to my nine year old to read, and she told me that she could not understand it, so I duly handed it to my 15 year old to read and despite giving it a good go, she couldn't either. So I thought, there's nothing else for it, I'll read it.
Firstly, the book was nice and compact and had interesting artwork both on the soft cover and some sketch type artwork throughout the pages inside. The book starts off with a prologue about the main character in the book, which was not a child, but an adult man who decides he would like to run away. Now after reading that, I could see why my daughters couldn't understand it. The book then goes on to explore John's imagination and his obsession with proving the man in the cafĂ © was a pirate and then their adventures. The animals in the story all start to speak, they all take time to bake all sorts of things, they hurl these cakes in battles as the search for the Caretaker of Imagination.
I believe the author decided that they wanted to explore the absurd and whilst they achieved the absurd, the story did not really flow AT ALL. It came across like John the main character was falling into some sort of psychotic state, as it flitted to one thing to another, almost like reading a diary of an unhinged person.
I believe the main character should of been a child and perhaps it would of been more believable, but maybe I am the one who has no imagination and the author is merely pointing this out? Thought provoking I guess. I would be interested to read other books by Z R Southcombe to see if the writing style is as whimsical and outlandish.
Before I started this book I asked my kids a question, I asked them how important is using your imagination and they said it was really important and that you can imagine anything at all, no right or wrong in the imagination. I started to read and both boys lost interest when the author started talking about running away from home as "that is a really silly thing to do, how can your mum look after the kid if you are not at home? " so I was forced to read the rest of the book by myself and I agree that parts of the book are really far fetched and you would need a really flexible imagination to stretch it that far.
I liked how short the story is, only 86 pages but still it felt a lot longer especially when the ridiculous started happening and I was forced to stop thinking logically as it was giving me a headache trying to follow what was happening and why. It does make sense when you realise the author is trying to show how anything is possible when you use your imagination.
I will keep the book and try reading to the kids when they are a bit older. I don't think I will be reading any of her other books but I am glad I got the chance to read this one so I know that I don't particularly like her style of writing.
A couple of months ago we were able to go to the book launch for "The Caretaker of Imagination" at a bookstore my mum works at, and it was a must as the author and my middle child share the same first name (something my daughter was VERY excited about). I love the title font and that is what catches my attention when I look at this book and then I'm getting drawn in by the big slice of cake and the rest of the illustration on the cover (we were also lucky that Jane Thorne drew a small illustration inside along with signing it). There aren't a huge amount of pictures in this book however my children (aged 4-7) didn't mind and were happy to sit back and listen to the tale of John and everyone who he meets on his adventure.
Now, this is a fun read, reading the first page had me hooked and I was loving the fact that at first I thought John was a young boy until the next page when we find out, that he is in fact an adult, which made me laugh out loud and I thought that it was rather clever. The story is lots of fun and though there were a couple of moments where it seemed like the kids weren't really interested, when asked if they wanted to keep having it read to them they quickly replied "I'm listening!" and "yes please, I want to finish it!". It did take a little getting used to the fact that they stories main character is an adult but the story is well done and a lot of fun.
It's great to see that there is going to be more books in the series and my daughter delights in seeing a book written by "the other Nobia!"
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)