Great Purple Sphere
Published by: Y Lolfa
Imprint: Y Lolfa
- Published: 08/2012
Jasper comes within thirty-three micro-tickles to death by ice. Will the Ant-Mekon 501 save him? And, with the Universe’s fate hanging in the balance, will Jasper find Skyclimber?
Money is tight in Jasper Tuttle's house. He's not expecting any special summer holiday when the mysterious Professor Lightship invites his family to his boathouse. Together with Emily, a girl he learns to stop ignoring, Jasper sets off on a dangerous journey. Travelling through tunnels and crystal corridors, they find themselves within the Great Purple Sphere, a place with no sky like the one we know, and a liking for levers, dials and spraycans with silly labels like "Dr Quebec's Instant Hypnosis Spray. Not to be used on St Coconut's Day!" Asked by Bluefeather to release Skyclimber, the children are aided by seven velvet emergency pouches, the kindly Grislefly and speedwalking Wrinklebone. They are hunted, meanwhile by Black Guards, cat-sized venom spiders, the violent Greyskin and the evil, hooded Cloud.
Jasper comes within thirty-three micro-tickles to death by ice. Will the Ant-Mekon 501 save him? And, with the Universe's fate hanging in the balance, will Jasper find Skyclimber?
"A terrific trip for Jasper and a superb read for us." Jason Mohammad, BBC
DR WHO LOVERS WILL LOVE THE GREAT PURPLE SPHERE!
This highly original story, which is aimed at 9-11 year-olds and was described by the BBC’s Jason Mohammad as “a superb read”, will appeal especially to boys. The Sphere is a truly-imagined world where the ground and sky meet to form a continuous globe, so that the sky is made up of fields and cities. It is a fantastical realm of crystal tunnels, talking liquids, Dr Quebec’s Instant Hypnosis Spray, plump Quadripeckers and strange underground transport vehicles called trugs. Dr Who lovers will appreciate the wacky details: the bells and whistles, the witty labels, levers and pulleys, the bureaucratic characters taken out of their office setting, and above all the humour of this novel. Fans of The Golden Compass movie and of Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy will also find layers of meaning beneath the exciting plot, since the author subtly explores aspects of quantum physics!
The story centres on a boy called Jasper Tuttle, who isn’t expecting any special summer holiday, since money is tight in his house. But then Professor Lightship invites Jasper’s family to guard his boathouse. A hidden shaft leads Jasper and his reluctant companion, Emily, on a strange journey. Travelling through crystal tunnels, they find themselves in the Great Purple Sphere, a doorway to distant worlds. Here they are given seven magic velvet pouches which they are only allowed to use in an emergency, and they make friends – the serene Bluefeather, speedwalking Wrinklebone, and smelly Grislefly who gives them a life-saving ride in his balloon. And enemies are made, too: venom spiders, fleshrippers and above all, deadly Cloud, whose thirst for power goes far beyond the world of the Sphere. With the clock ticking away its mortal micro-tickles, Jasper and Emily are given a vital task: find Skyclimber. Oh, and save the Universe.
Author Huw Jones, who also drew the book’s illustrations, denies that the driest of the novel’s bureaucratic characters are based around anyone he might have met through work at the Welsh Language Board, his day-job, in Cardiff where he lives.
“It is true that I am a civil servant, and also that the idea for this novel came to me during a rather tedious seminar on European funding. Beyond that, though, I couldn’t possibly comment! I just hope that children enjoy being in the Purple Sphere as much as I did when I was writing it. I already have the sequel underway....” ~Publisher: Y Lolfa
For children who do not sustain long periods of concentration and who like their stories, like visual media, to be full of constant change and dramatic incidents (anecdotal evidence suggests that there are increasing numbers of them), this may be an entertaining read.
The adventure begins in the traditional way with an introduction to the humdrum daily life of the characters. The effect of a startling video of an erupting volcano is rapidly mitigated for the main protagonist Jasper, by the imposition of a six page geography homework essay on the topic, and the prospects for his summer vacation look bleak. However, the pace of the story accelerates at once with the arrival of a mysterious letter containing the offer of an unexpected holiday venue to Jasper and his family, a prospect marred only by the presence of an unwanted guest, a classmate called Emily.
A wacky, tongue-in-cheek tone is established once they reach the Crooked Moon Boathouse (‘half a mile, No Sausages’), and almost immediately the children find a mysterious underground entrance and pass through the familiar paraphernalia of secret passages and hidden doors into an intergalactic world of spheres, crystals, quantum pouches and a large cast of bizarre characters. The story shifts breathlessly from one setting to another. It is full of near misses and miraculous escapes and always fast paced, description being brief and straightforward. If the rapid and at times perfunctory nature of the plot and the lack of interest in character and motive is a drawback for the adult reader, younger readers may relish its breakneck speed as well as the humour. (‘Next to Henry Littlefoot lay Gertrude Hugebottom, a famous opera singer’; four legged hens are called ‘quadripeckers’.) They may also enjoy the descriptions of interesting food: ‘a splendid feast . . . of . . . giant oysters from the Crab Nebula were followed by fillets of Welsh Black beef . . .’
Some dramatic tension is created in the second half of the book, leading to the climactic battle, but the reader always knows that a magic contrivance of some kind will do the trick.
I was left feeling uncomfortable by the miraculous cure of Jasper’s mother’s blindness in the book’s conclusion which seems to be an unsuccessful attempt to marry fantasy and reality, especially at the end of an essentially light-hearted quest to ‘save the universe’. ~Wendy Crockett @ www.gwales.com
Please note that ePub files can now be opened on Kindle.