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The Last Alchemist Paperback – 1 Mar 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Australia (1 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741664179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741664171
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 0.5 x 29.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

In The Last Alchemist master book creator, Colin Thompson has produced a spectacular book for the Millennium which contrasts a quest for riches and glory with a child's simple joy in the natural world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Hannah McGuire on 28 Jun 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing book from amazing author. Beautiful intriguing pictures. Story quite complicated for younger readers though
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We love Colin Thompson's books as the illustrations are so detailed and the stories are a bit different from the usual kids book stuff. Our favourite is How to Live Forever as we think it has the most interesting and intricate pictures but this one is good too. We return to his books often as you notice something different hidden each time. These books are keepers!
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By Fellfairy on 25 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Colin Thompson's books are by far the favourite books on my children's shelves. The illustrations are incredibly detailed with a multitude of tiny and bizarre things to find on many of the pages. This story is not the simplest idea but as in many of his books, the author manages to mix fantasy with morality in a way that makes discussions on 'greed' very lively! Another great book.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Childs on 15 May 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This us yet another great book from Colin Thimplson - so much to discuss & beautiful language. Thank you!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
delightfully bizarre story!! 17 Oct 2002
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In a kingdom far, far away, in the deep and dark cellars and dungeons of a King's castle, alchemists have been toiling away for centuries to find the secret for turning metals (or anything else) into gold. For centuries, they've failed at this attempt, though in Mr. Thompson's book, "The Last Alchemist", we meet the pop-eyed, withered and completely stressed out Spinifex. Spinifex is the 19th alchemist for the kingdom, and the greedy king has given him until the end of the year to find, FINALLY, the secret for turning metals into gold.
Spinifex sets off on this quest with a passion, doing research in the vast (and completely bizarre) library, cooking up everything he possibly can think of to make gold, all the while bossing around his small apprentice, Arthur. For his own part, Arthur is far more interested in things like sunflowers than smelly potions, and as the story goes on, the reader gets the distinct impression that as Spinifex's experiments build and build up to a gigantic machine, something downright catastrophic is going to happen before the story is over!
The plot and text of "The Last Alchemist" is fun and easy to read, but what will REALLY hook readers are the illustrations. Brightly colored with many shades of almost fluorescent pink, blue, orange and red, the book is a veritable treat for the eyes. On each page fantastically odd things are happening that almost defy explanation. The castle's library, for example, is right out of M.C. Escher's world, with staircases going upside down, sideways, and off into impossible directions. Walking all over these stairs, reading books, hiding in crannies or peeking out of cracks are hooded figures, strange creatures and beady lil' eyes. Doors are on walls which are really floors for other stairs, and many of the books themselves are odd, winged creatures. Teeny little creatures crawl through and around Spinifex's laboratory equipment, bringing the wrinkled and gray Spinifex the strange ingredients for his experiments.
It's hard to think of a close equivalent in illustration style that really gives an accurate picture. The crowded pages of "Where's Waldo?" comes to mind, but Mr. Thompson's illustrations are far more bizarre than anything Waldo had seen. There's a slightly macabre feeling to these pictures, and if I was hard pressed I'd have to say it resembles the album cover of Elton John's 1975 "Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy". There's a certain Monty Python-esque feeling to the illustrations.
I personally LOVE this book, as do both of my children and the students I've shown this to at school. Some kids said that very young children might find it "really weird" because of all the little creatures crawling over the pages or the inanimate objects (books, flasks, lamps, etc) that have legs or eyes. Highly recommended for those interested in a visual tour-de-force!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An exquisite book 11 Sep 2006
By Garden Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book stands the test of time, having been a continual favorite for me and my kids for several years now. It has been my daughter's favorite book since before she could read, and it remains her favorite despite the fact that she now reads and enjoys long chapter books. The illustrations hold endless depth and fascination -- in how many pictures can you find Cafe Max or the long-eared dog? The story is mystical, sincere and very sweet. I can't think of a better book for children or for adults to read with children.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By D. Blankenship - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As with most of Colin Thompson's work, the plot is simple and the syntax uncomplicated and pretty much straightforward. This is the story of a rich but greedy king who, like most kings in both the real world and in the world of myth and fantasy, wants more wealth, i.e. he wants gold, gold, gold! To achieve this he has hired a string of Alchemists to study and come up with a way of turning normal everyday material into gold. We find that the latest of these potion makers to be Spinifex who happens to be the 19th Alchemist that has been hired; the others being sacked for incompetence and failure. Now Spinifex is just as greedy as the king and in many ways is even more driven. He certainly is less bright in many ways. This becomes quite apparent when the king finally gives him an absolute deadline to start producing or his is out of a job. The greedy and totally inept "wizard" is lucky in a way in that he has a very down to earth, bright, practical and knowing apprentice; Arthur. Together, Spinifex and Arthur ply their trade. At this point it should be noted that Arthur, the wise apprentice, is the only one in the entire story that has the slightest clue. But enough of the plot as it is simple and actually only acts as a hook to hang the author's unique, bizarre and wonderful art work upon.

Colin Thompson, through his various books, has built up almost a cult like following over the years around the world. I must say of all the illustrators, artists and dreamers that produce children's books, Thompson is arguably the best in the business. This artist's imagination is almost beyond description. I am simply not sure how he thinks of the stuff he draws and paints. His work is rather difficult to describe using the written word. Each panel, each frame, some of which cover two pages, will cause many readers to spend literally hours studying them and with each passing minute or hour, finding something new each time the eye scans the page.

Each print is absolutely filled with strange creatures from inanimate objects which walk, talk, fly, crawl or just set and watch. Small gnome like characters grace each painting is literally hundreds of versions. Entire castles are built on over-stuffed chairs; or are they? A trip to the castle kitchen is worth several trips just to discover the various living pots and pans, titles of cookbooks, toasters that toast not only bread but entire pots of jelly, strange ingredients stuffed here and there and strange contraptions of unknown use.
Each room in the castle, and each scene of the country side is filled to the brim with Rube Goldberg type of contraptions, only better done that Goldberg ever dreamed of accomplishing; stairs that go up, down, sideways and to nowhere. Eyes are always watching from nooks and crannies and again, strange and bizarre creatures in the most unlikely places. There are latterly hundreds of books all through the castle and reading the titles of many of these books is an entertainment treat within itself. An entire afternoon, maybe longer, can be spent finding Max, the long eared dog and a place called "Café Max." Both of these appear time and again. We find rivers being poured from vessels and on those rivers sailing craft; if craft you want to call them.

All of these illustrations are extremely complicated and so complex that it is like reading a new book each time you pick it up. Many of the paintings are optical illusions and actually take quite a lot of thought to figure them out. The blend and contrast of color is an absolute delight. There is not one inch or a fraction of an inch that is wasted as each illustration so detailed that you actually have paintings of paintings covering paintings. As I said, it is difficult to describe. This is truly one you have to see and experience yourself.

The entire book is a visual fantasy. This is a great book for the little ones but I must warn you that many of the illustrations will be a bit over their heads and it takes an adult mind to fully appreciate them. This is not to say that children will not be captivated by this work though. Had a thinking child this book, set he or she in a corner, and I dare say you will not see or hear form them for several hours.

Do yourself a favor and purchase a copy of this work. This review is on the hard cover edition but I see that it is also produced in paperback. If nothing else check it out from your local library...do so even if you have no children around to read it as I promise you a very pleasurable fantasy trip.
And by the way...the story has a great moral lesson to teach, which is very much an added bonus is.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
The Last Alchemist 30 Jan 2013
By Gretchen Detgen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful children's books. The story is a nice one, but the real charm here is in the pictures! The drawings are fabulous, creative, detailed, and lots of fun. My young granddaughters and I spent a long time on each page exploring the drawings. My older grandchildren remember the book fondly. Buy it; you won't be sorry!!!
Five Stars 12 Nov 2014
By Nancy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just love Colin Thompson's books - mostly the ones with all the detailed art in them
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