Wednesday, 3 August 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Marcus and the Amazons is a winning tale of courage and heroism

OUT OF THIS WORLD: Philp charts a fascinating fantasyland with his latest.

The animal kingdom, particularly the world of insects, makes for a fascinating playground in storytelling. So it comes as no surprise that author Geoffrey Philp’s skill and care as a writer emerges as he breathes full-bodied life into Marcus and the Amazons, his delightful and heartwarming new children’s tale, spun with sincerity and heart.

Philp, an accomplished Jamaican poet and educator, takes the reader through a channel-surfing of moods (joy, sorrow, fear, anxiety), and it’s all wrapped up in a mix of lessons and high-value entertainment.

It’s the story of an industrious Formica ant named Marcus, who returns home from the forest to discover that the ruthless Amazons have enslaved his colony, taking his bride-to-be, Amy, as prisoner. Much of the action in the story is centred on Marcus’ courageous efforts to rescue his lady and deliver his people from the grip of their oppressors.

Seeming more human and powerfully life-like than anything, the tiny characters leap off the page. And if it weren’t for the book’s vivid illustrations one could easily be led to believe that the story is populated by actual people. It’s a testament to Philp’s compelling way with dialogue and characterization and his conviction in his craft. Marcus’ journey of self-discovery and the lead-up to the story’s climax are particularly wonderful.

With its inspirational leading 'man,' Marcus and the Amazons may be primarily aimed at the young, but it’s a tale that should resonate with universal audiences of all ages, especially when themes like survival, courage and hope make such strong statements. A

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