CM . . .
. Volume X Number 9 . . . . January 2, 2004
This unsuccessful fantasy is difficult to understand and is not written with a clear audience in mind. Not only that, there is a creepy, frightening theme of pornography and pedophilia that will mystify younger students and disgust any teenager who is unfortunate enough to pick it up.
The Shining World is the second in a series called "The Notherland Journeys" in which 16 year old Peggy travels to the fantasy land she created in her mind when she was a child. She accidentally takes Gary (known as Jackpine from the first book, and her love interest) with her. In the other dimension of Notherland, they meet up again with Peggy's childhood doll, Molly, a sprite named Mi (as in do, re, mi of the musical scale) and a talking loon named Gavi. Mi has disappeared, apparently looking for the Shining World she has imagined into existence (heaven?), and the others must find her. They follow her through time, meeting with Lord and Lady Franklin of Arctic fame, William Blake, the famous English poet, Grania, the famous pirate and even Queen Elizabeth I. They gradually become more and more uneasy about Mi's whereabouts, as well they should, because, innocence itself, Mi has been kidnapped on present day Earth by a pedophile and taken to the ugly dimension of FarNear where children suffer as prostitutes, child labourers and drug addicts. Peggy rescues her, facing down the Evil Angel (the pedophile), but Mi is broken in body and spirit and takes some time to even begin to heal. As Peggy and Gary return to present day Earth, the sprite, Mi, watches over them from the Earth's sky, Molly the doll returns to guard Notherland, and Gavi the loon returns to Earth to find a mate.
Peggy behaves like a 10 or 11 year old and yet is supposed to have left school early to be on her own making money by planting trees. It would have been more successful to have had her return to that age, as older teens just would not be dwelling on a fantasy world in which their childhood toys were the protagonists. Gary's character is never fully realized; as he says, he's just along for the ride. The doll, Molly, and the sprite, Mi, are child like, the way you would expect toys to be seen by a child. Gavi the loon has a wonderful voice, that of the fussy philosopher nerd, and he provides some comic moments. As the famous people from the past are visited, each character "learns" about him or herself. Gary decides he will be an aboriginal artist after visiting Blake; Molly decides pirate life is not for her even though she still wears an eye patch.
The theme of loss of innocence is just too scary for the children in the targeted age range. Teens who try to read this book will gag over Peggy's fond memories of and current involvement with her former childhood fantasy world.
Joan Marshall is the teacher librarian at Fort Richmond Collegiate in Winnipeg MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.