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The Pictish Child: Tartan Magic, Book Two Hardcover – 4 Oct 1999
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My thirteen-year-old daughter first introduced me to these books, and I must say that I enjoy them as much as she does. Jane Yolen does an excellent job of bring Scotland to life for the American reader (please remember that there is a Scottish glossary at the back!). In general, the author does not spend too much time on character development (outside of the children and their grandmother, the characters are very two-dimensional), but for many young readers, this will not prove a problem.
So, let me just say that my daughter and I both enjoyed this book, and we highly recommend it to you!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Three American kids -- twins Peter and Jennifer, and younger sibling Molly -- are still in Scotland, while Da and their parents are away. During a "dreech" day, Gran takes the girls to a nearby nursing home, where three old ladies -- a coven of sweet old witches -- play a card game and dote on Molly. One of them gives her a little stone with an engraving. It turns out to be a talisman -- one that soon calls a Pictish girl to the present day.
The little Pictish girl, Ninia, is not the only visitor. Just after her arrival, a mighty Pict warrior appears, and a sinister dark mist begins following them. Gran can hold it off for a short while. But why is Ninia in the present, how can she go home -- and what evil presence wants to destroy her?
This is a really charming little book, full of twists and turns and the occasional odd comment ("American has electricity. Scotland has power"). There's also a little educational value in this, which parents might like; Yolen is too talented to let this info on the Picts and their civilization be boring, and it is very vital to the plotline. The pace is snappy and full of Scottish words (there's a guide to them at the back of the book, if you want to know what "dreech" means), and descriptions that cause images to pop into the mind.
There's a little more comedy in this book than in the last: we have the smart-alecky talking dog, who trades barbs with anyone who will respond. Also, there is Peter's turn as an early teenage driver, which will elicit winces from any parents who read it. The menace is, possibly, even better than the wizard Michael Scot -- you probably won't even be able to guess who it is.
Delightful little story, really charming. A must-read for any lovers of magic or Scotland.
While the group is visiting Gran's coven, Molly (the youngest) is given a talisman which sets them off on yet another magical adventure to save the world from a power hungry villain! The group joins up with Ninia a Pictish girl from the ancient past who is being chased by an ominous dark mist and it's up to the kids and their Gran to solve the mystery, get the girl back to her time and foil the villain!
This is a wonderful little story for young readers (I'd say 8-14 is the ideal range here), while there's not much to the character development, it's got great pace and a fair amount of suspense and with the proper attention, readers can figure out "who done it" just before it's revealed. I'm a bit disappointed to see that Peter is still portrayed as a brooding, moody and somewhat prone to temper tantrums (he stalks off from the home) and the focus of this story, as in the first, is on Molly and her emerging magical skills. Since they are twins, it would be nice to see a more even development of the characters. Overall, I give it a B, it's fast paced, suspenseful, magical, and just plain fun!
By Jane Yolen
Book reviewer: Hilde
The Pictish Child is a very good book. It takes place in Scotland, and according to Gran "There's electric-and there's power. Americas got the electricity and Scotland has the power."
Sixteen-year-old Jennifer, sixteen-year-old Peter and four-year-old Molly came from America to visit their Grandmother (who they call Gran) in Scotland. Where rain that in America would have canceled Baseball games, was (for Scotland) nothing more than a slight drizzle.
While Da (Their Grandfather) is at work, Gran decides to visit Eventide Home and her friends there. "A young woman in a plaid skirt, white blouse, and blue cardigan sweater greeted them at the door. She had a foxlike face, long and sly looking. A metallic name badge identified her as Fiona, and she wore a pair of tiny silver scissors around her neck on a ribbon."
Jennifer, Molly and Peter discover the past when a giant, gray mist comes to swallow up all of the past that had escaped when a mean sorcerer came through a small rip that he had created in time. They also found out how delicate the balance between good magic and evil magic is in this thrilling and scary-at-times book.
I was really quite glad that there were no pictures in this book. For I think that pictures would have absolutely ruined it for me. Because I loved imagining what was happening and what the characters and things looked like.
I think that the way Jane Yolen used words was really quite descriptive and powerful. Like she wielded a sword made of words with discipline and imagination that is a treasure in any book.
I think that this book is an appropriate read-aloud book for children from five to seven. But to fully understand it I think that you have to be eight or over.