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The Growing Popularity of Charlie Bone

Book Focus: July 2004

  • Grades: 3–5

In the first two books of the Children of the Red King series, Jenny Nimmo introduces readers to Charlie Bone, a ten-year-old with the amazing ability to look at photographs and hear conversations that were taking place at the time. Upon discovering his secret talent, Charlies relatives delightedly ship him off to Bloors Academy, a school for magical children with offbeat talents. Now, in Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy (Orchard Books/Scholastic; June 2004), Charlie faces greater challenges and makes new friends in a magical tale.

This semester at Bloor's Academy begins with the startling discovery of Ollie Sparks, an invisible boy who lives in the attic. Ezekiel Bloor has cast a spell making Ollie invisible as punishment for prying into matters that don't concern him. Determined to help Ollie regain his shape, Charlie and his friend Emma face daunting new challenges with relish. In her latest magical caper, Nimmo entrances readers once again with fascinating characters, universal conflicts, and captivating settings.

School Library Journal praised the series, noting: "While the parallels with Harry Potter are obvious, this fantasy has its own charms, chief among them being the endowed's often-odd magical abilities. The writing is deft, the characters are intriguing, and Charlie Bone is an appealing boy."

Booklist seconded the sentiment: "These days stories about schools for budding magicians are inevitably compared to the Harry Potter books... but this story itself is quite different. Charlie's fast-paced adventure tale is happily the first book in a planned quintet called the Children of the Red King. Harry Potter's myriad fans will be well pleased."

Nimmo enjoys a simple life of writing. She lives in an old water mill in Wales and begins her day of writing only after the chickens, rabbits, and cats have all been fed. She writes her stories out in longhand, editing as she goes; once her manuscript is complete, she types it up on an old typewriter for her publisher to review. During the summer she puts down her pencil to help her husband host a children's summer school at their home. Her love of books has been evident from an early age. At nine years old she had already read all the books in her school junior library and was requesting permission to join the senior library. Jenny realized in her childhood that writing stories could be as much fun as reading them. Her writing career began with stories created to thrill her friends.

Before she established her career as a writer, Nimmo worked in television adapting other people's stories for television programs. When she tried her hand at writing her own television program, her producer suggested that with some added length it would make a wonderful novel. This novel evolved into a longer tale and was published in 1975 as Nimmo's first book, The Bronze Trumpeter. Nimmo was awarded the Smarties Grand Prize following the success of The Snow Spider, an instant hit when published in 1986. It was later turned into a television children's fantasy drama in England. The Children of the Red King quintet was written in response to demands for a sequel to the Snow Spider trilogy, concerning the adventures of a Welsh boy who had inherited the powers of his magician ancestor. When Jenny decided that Gwyn, the hero of the tale, had reached his prime, she decided to continue the theme of inherited magical powers in new hero. Thus, Charlie Bone was born.

  • Subjects:
    Literature, Literature Appreciation
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