Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This comical adventure about a girl who longs to follow in her father's footsteps crackles with Pullman's (The Golden Compass; Clockwork) usual flair. Lila desperately wants to be a firework-maker like her widower father. Although he has raised her amid the dancing sparks, he wants her to have a husband rather than a vocation. With the help of her entrepreneurial friend Chulak, the personal servant to the king's talking white elephant, Lila tricks her father into revealing the secret to his profession, then bravely departs to retrieve the royal sulphur from Razvani the Fire-Fiend at the heart of a volcano. Pullman marries elements of fairy tale with slapstick humor as Lila outwits a vaudevillian band of pirates and scales jagged mountains on her quest. Gallagher's (Blue Willow, reviewed above) softly focused graphite drawings lend magical mystery as Lila fearfully contemplates the dancing fire imps at Mount Merapi and emphasize the absurdity as the elephant, his flanks emblazoned with advertisements, kneels before the Goddess of the Lake in order to save Lila from Razvani. If the tale, first published in Britain in 1995, isn't as polished as Pullman's other works, it's worth the trip just for the climactic fireworks scene in which Lila gets to show her stuff. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) FYI: As of September, Pullman's Sally Lockhart Trilogy is being reissued in paperback: The Ruby in the Smoke; The Shadow in the North; and The Tiger in the Well; as well as The Tin Princess, which features characters from the trilogy. (Knopf, $4.99 paper each ages 12-up ISBN 0-394-89589-4; -82599-3; ISBN 0-679-82671-8; -87615-4) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
This is an imaginative tale of a spunky young girl who wants to follow in her father's footsteps and become a "master fireworks maker." The trouble is that she must team with the secret behind making outstanding fireworks. Soon, our heroine learns that the secret of outstanding fireworks resides with the "Fire-Fiend" in the "Heart of the Mountain." So, she runs away from her home to locate "the secret," only to find trouble and misadventure along the way. This short and very readable novel alternates between a description of the girl's journey and her father's desperate attempt to find his runaway daughter.This book is a wonderful blend of humor, adventure, and wisdom, set in an exotic Far Eastern setting. All the characters in the book have memorable personalities and the descriptions of the forests, mountains, and the fireworks make for a colorful and enjoyable read. The Firework-Maker's Daughter is a short book with a strong, young heroine and is appropriate for late elementary and early middle school readers. Genre: Fantasy. 1999, Arthur A. Levine Books, Ages 9 to 12, $15.95. Reviewer: Hal Foster
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Philip Pullman gives us another fillip to stave off impatience for the third installment of his "Dark Materials" trilogy. Unlike his recent Clockwork, this offering is far from dark and gothic. This light and cheerful fable describes the adventures of Lila, whose desire to follow in her father's footsteps as a firework-maker takes her on a quest up and into a volcano in search of the secrets of fire. Luckily, she has lots of help from good friends. Among them is a talking white elephant named Hamlet, and his keeper, a young man worthy of a career on Madison Avenue. It is a handsomely designed book, with evocative black-and-white illustrations by S. Saelig Gallagher, reminiscent of her work in Pam Conrad's Blue Willow.
Gr 3-6-A story set "A thousand miles ago" and very far away. Having grown up amid the clutter and creations in her firework-maker father's studio, Lila wants only to follow in his footsteps, but Lalchand thinks more of finding a husband for his daughter. Since he won't see things her way, Lila enlists the aid of her friend Chulak, keeper of the king's (talking) white elephant Hamlet, to help her find out what she needs to complete her apprenticeship and become a master firework-maker. Chulak learns that the final test is to obtain the royal sulfur from the Grotto of Razvani the Fire-Fiend, and Lila runs away to do this, before Chulak finds out that it takes more than determination to accomplish this quest. Now Lila's life is in danger, from more than the bumbling pirates who kidnap her along the way, and it is up to Chulak and Hamlet to find her before it is too late. Stately but expressive graphite drawings open each chapter and, along with decorated title and half-title pages, add to the expanded folktale feel of this story. This title is similar in length and probable audience to Pullman's Clockwork (Scholastic, 1998); however, where that book used horror and suspense to rivet readers to the page, this one will be remembered for its broad humor and gentle moral featuring a determined girl who reaches her goals through hard work, courage, and perseverance. Young readers will see, hear, smell, and be dazzled by the fireworks that burst forth, as Lila earns her heart's desire.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Adapted for the stage in a colourful and musical manner. Catchy tunes, impressive costumes and subtle yet effective special effects make for a fun family day out and highlights include the stunning costume of talking white elephant Hamlet and the beautifully crafted puppets used to help tell the tale.” - Amy Burns, The Stage