Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ian Ogilvy

Measle and the Wrathmonk
by Ian Ogilvy
Recommended Age: 10+

The boy is a small skinny orphan with messy brown hair and green eyes. His parents were killed by a snake when he was a small child. Since then he has lived with a disagreeable guardian. And he is about to learn that wizardry is real.

Sound familiar? Well, in this story, the similarity to Harry Potter does not go much further. The orphan’s name is Measle Stubbs, and his guardian is a frightful creature named Basil Tramplebone, who is the worst of three grades of sorcerer (there are good wizards, sometimes-good-but-sometimes-bad warlocks, and insanely wicked Wrathmonks—like Basil). Basil seems to be living off the money in Measle’s trust fund, and one day he decides he doesn’t need Measle anymore, so he shrinks him down to a half-inch tall and sends him to live in the huge model railway town in the attic.

It would seem to be the end of Measle... but he turns out to be luckier, braver, and cleverer than anyone thought, especially Basil. Soon he has rescued some of Basil’s other victims and has hatched a daring plan to save seven tiny people and a tiny dog from a giant, man-eating bat and an enormous, evil cockroach.

This is a very charming and thrilling adventure, full of warmth, weirdness, and wry humor. Anyone who enjoyed Roald Dahl’s The Witches, E. Nesbit’s The Magic City, or the first Harry Potter book should enjoy this story too. The series continues with Measle and the Dragodon.

Measle and the Dragodon
by Ian Ogilvy
Recommended Age: 10+

Sometime British actor, and now American author, Ian Ogilvy continues to show his writing chops in this sequel to Measle and the Wrathmonk. Aimed at a slightly younger audience than the Harry Potter books, Ogilvy once again creates an atmosphere laced with equal parts goofiness and menace, and then turns loose his plucky little hero, Measle Stubbs.

Only weeks after destroying the evil Wrathmonk Basil Tramplebone and getting his wizardly parents back, Measle is happier than he has ever been. But it is not to last. During a visit to an amusement park called the Isle of Smiles, Measle’s mum – who is basically a walking supply of magical power – feels a brush with a sinister presence. Soon afterward, a gang of buffoonish, but dangerously evil, Wrathmonks kidnap Lee Stubbs and pack her off to the Isle of Smiles, leaving Measle’s father, Sam Stubbs, in a haze of amnesia.

So it falls to Measle alone (well, alone except for a small dog named Tinker) to sneak onto the Isle of Smiles in search of his mother. Rescuing her will not be easy. Foolish as the Wrathmonks are, they are also quite powerful. Too soon, Measle and Tinker are on the run from an army of vicious, animated toys, carousel horses, and a gigantic plaster-and-plastic dinosaur. And not only the Wrathmonks are on his tail. There is also an ancient, evil wizard who can speak directly to people’s minds, and who plans to use Measle’s mother to unleash an immense force for destruction.

Leave it to a film actor to create such vivid images of horror that an amusement park becomes the stuff of children’s nightmares. Leave it to a creative artist, writing for the amusement of his own stepchildren, to lace that nightmare with slapstick humor and giggle-inducing villains.

If you enjoy stories in which a tiny, innocent hero confronts vast, powerful, evil forces, look no further than Measle and the Dragodon. No further, that is, except for the further adventures Measle and the Mallockee and Measle and the Slitherghoul.

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