January Book Reviews by Suzy Davies


“Ben and The Spider Gate” by Author Angela Fish. Book Review by Suzy Davies, Children’s Author and Book Reviewer.

Genre: Children’s Middle Grade. Rating 5 Stars.

This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This is a delightful, imaginative story with an exciting quest adventure that overturns gender stereotypes.

Most of the action takes place in settings which are familiar to children – a house, a garden, a school. However, the outdoors in the book represents an enchanted space where anything can happen. 

It is in the garden that Ben meets Lox, a spider, who needs his help to find a missing piece of the Spider Gate. There is a time limit for our hero. He only has until the end of autumn to help his spider friend.

As time begins to run out, Ben opens up and shares his secret, enlisting the help of a school friend, Jess. The two of them hope to retrieve Lox’s treasure, which they believe the Magpies have stolen. 

Their quest is a test of loyalty and courage. The friends pay a price for their efforts to keep Ben’s promise to Lox. Although Jess is challenged by their ordeal in the wood beyond the garden, she emerges a heroine, too. And Scoot the dog confirms the loyalty that exists between children and their animal friends.

The grandmother in the tale represents an enchanted figure who intuitively knows what the children need and who seems to be an uncanny helper as the children learn about the wonder of nature for those who have eyes to see.

The book seems to suggest that the stories of our lives are intertwined, just as we are connected to the small things in Nature’s patterns.

A highly recommended Middle-Grade Book.

 

Ben and The Spider Prince by Author Angela Fish. Book Review by Suzy Davies, Children’s Author and Book Reviewer. Rating 5 Stars.

This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review.

Once again, in this second book of a series, Fish has woven a magical tale with the themes of Nature and Wonder at the forefront of the story. 
Drawing on folktales, Fish’s adventure tale highlights the power of the feminine for good or evil. It is the grandmother in the story who is attuned to ancient ways, and who helps the boy hero, Ben, on his quest to help the Spider-Prince. Jess, Ben’s companion, comes back into the story, after an absence, which teaches Ben that she is his equal and that he needs her. Ben and Jess triumph together against an adversary and it is is a victory shared.
This tale teaches children about the value of companionship, loyalty, trust, and gratitude. It also shows them that there is much to be learned from being around Nature and noticing the beauty of the world around us.
The older generation has wisdom to share with this generation growing up, and Fish shows children that there is more to this world than just the marvels of modernity and the technological age.
Spellbinding in its beauty and attention to detail, this clearly-written book, with appealing black and white illustrations, is a delight, and highly recommended!

Ben and The Spider Lake by Author Angela Fish. Book Review by Suzy Davies, Children’s Author and Book Reviewer. Rating 5 Stars.

This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This third book in the trilogy takes the children, Ben and Jess, beyond the familiar garden of Ben’s home, and out to a magical place where Amara, The Wise Woman, lives.

Ben and Jess embark on another adventure together, this time near the Dark Mountains at Spider Lake, and the text suggests not only that there is a magical world within the book, but also beyond it.

Fish interweaves the real world with this magical world that the children and Ben’s grandmother know about and experience. In a sense, the children are time-travelers. They are modern-day kids, conversant with computer games, but at the same time, they have learned the old ways from Ben’s gran and Amara. These worlds are connected, but only for those who are aware and believe in the magic they witness.

This book speaks of people who care about nature. It will appeal to parents who want to educate children about conservation. Stunningly imaginative, this inventive adventure story will engage children.

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