'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 13 November 2021

Review: Frindleswylde

I’ve got goosebumps and spine tingles as I type these words. That’s what Frindleswylde does to readers.

It’s beautiful, enchanting and addictive. It’s different and unique, and yet familiar and comforting.

It’s the story of Cora and the strange boy Frindleswylde…

Cora lives with her granny in the woods. But everyone knows that care must be taken within the trees, because Frindleswylde lurks around every corner, waiting to trick, lure and snatch children from their homes.

Granny takes many precautions, but Frindleswylde is cunning, and he finds a way to Cora. He tricks her into following him back to his world, where he aims to make her stay forever.

Down Cora fell, down and down. She flew past water and weeds and rocks. And suddenly she landed in brightness and bitter cold.

But Cora doesn’t want to stay in the strange world. She needs to get back to her Granny. To stop Cora crying, Frindleswylde gives her a chance to be free by setting three impossible tasks to complete. If Cora completes them, she can go home.

But Frindleswylde really is cunning, and he doesn’t like to lose.

Frindleswylde is new and old at the same time. It feels familiar but also fresh. It is classic storytelling for new audiences. It’s different and unique and very, very special.

The language and tone are lovingly filled with whimsy. You read a sentence and feel warm inside. Such is the magic infused into the words. The book has quite a large word count for a picture book, and it’s actually more like a short story, or a junior fiction tale. But in saying that, the reading experience zips by because the story is so addictive and enthralling.

The illustrations are pure magic, with a gorgeous green/blue palette and so much shadowy, artistic images. Each illustration is a work of art. They are pictures that imprint in your mind, and I’m sure you’ll agree, one look at the beautiful cover will have your fingers itching to pick up the book.

I’ve not read a book like this is a long time, and many children, too, may not have experienced a story quite like this. It is a magical adventure, with action, mystery and high stakes, which I believe will really appeal to young kids.

Due to the longer word count, it’s a story a junior reader may like to read independently, and I think there’s something really special about that occurring — a magical bond building between reader and book. But equally, and in true picture book form, it’s a book to read snuggled beneath warm blankets, together with your loved ones AND in classroom circles, so the characters and their motivations can be questioned and explored.

It really is a book that gives to everyone.

Natalia and Lauren O’Hara, the creators of this gift, are sisters from England who adore folk tales and old stories. This love has been infused into Frindleswylde, creating something that seems more than just a book. More than just story and illustrations. I think I’ll call it magic!

Title: Frindleswylde
Author/Illustrator: Natalia and Lauren O’Hara
Publisher: Walker Books, $32.99
Publication Date: 3 November 2021
Format: Hardcover with Dust Jacket
ISBN: 9781406388961
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book