________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 20 . . . . June 8, 2001

cover After Hamelin.

Bill Richardson.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2000.
227 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.)
ISBN 1-55037-628-4 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-629-2 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Pied Piper of Hamelin (Legendary character)-Juvenile fiction.
Missing children-Juvenile fiction.
Quests (Expeditions)-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.

Review by Susan Fonseca.

**** /4

In After Hamelin, Bill Richardson has taken Robert Browning's classic tale of "The Pied Piper" and has continued the story:


I could see for miles around. The fields of flax that surround the town.
The hills beyond them, and the tall black mountains beyond the hills.
But the laneways and roads were obscured by a turbulent brown current.
It shuddered and seethed. It heaved and hummed. The streets of
Hamelin had become a vibrating river of rats. How many? No one
could count them. No one could name a number high enough. It was
impossible to tell where one rat ended and the next one began. Tens
of thousands of tails, hundreds of thousands of feet, millions of
whiskers merged as the hastening tide cascaded past the school and the shops,
the houses and the hall.

The story is told by the 101-year-old Penelope who hearkens back to the day of her "elevening," 90 years ago. The Piper has stolen away the children with his magic flute, but two of the children, Alloway and Penelope, escape: Alloway, because he is crippled and unable to keep up with the others, and Penelope, when she suddenly loses her hearing. The 11-year-old girl, with her gift of Deep Dreaming, is the only one who can travel into the land of the Piper and bring the children back.

      Not only is After Hamelin a page-turning adventure story that children will love, it is also a teacher's dream. Read this story aloud to a class and savour the amazing characters, the images, the rhymes, the songs, and the play of Richardson's language. Enter a dream world of adventure, populated by talking cats, three-legged dogs and skipping dragons. Visit the Trolavians who have skis for feet, communicate in song and whose court house is called "the Palace of Just Ice."

      More than a fantasy, however, this is a book about life, peppered with the wisdom of the century-old Penelope:


I say I have made it a rule not to preach. However, anyone who is 101
has earned the right to break her own rules. Once in a while, at least.
And so, I am going to give you one piece of advice. Pause once a day
and relish the moment. Look around. Notice the colors, the smells and
the sounds. Take them in, for that moment will pass and no one can say
what the next moment will bring.

Like the Piper, Bill Richardson is a magician who spins magic with his words. Richardson is a gifted storyteller, a writer, a broadcaster, as well as a former children's librarian. He has written several humorous books for adults, including Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast. After Hamelin is his first children's novel. Like some of the characters in this fantasy, Bill was a very accomplished skipper as a child.

      Be sure to check the Annick Press website at http://www.annickpress.com for an excellent selection of pre and post-reading activities for this book. After Hamelin has excellent curriculum ties in the areas of storytelling, friendship, travel, courage, magic, fantasy, relationships, deafness, sexism, Middle Ages, imagery, character development, voice and language.

      This fantasy novel is a tribute to the skill and vision of an amazing writer! Already the book has been recognized by its being a CCBC Our Choice 2001 selection, a Silver Birch Award Finalist and a Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award 2001 nominee.

Highly Recommended.

Susan Fonseca is a teacher-librarian at Glenwood School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364