The Various (The Touchstone Trilogy Series #1)

The Various (The Touchstone Trilogy Series #1)

4.4 32
by Steve Augarde
     
 

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Now available in paperback with gorgeous new cover art!

A captivating story of courage and strength against terrible odds, this is the story of Midge, left to stay with her eccentric uncle during the holidays, and her adventures with the Various, a band of fairies. The existence of the Various, who are strange, wild, and sometimes even deadly, has been

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Overview

Now available in paperback with gorgeous new cover art!

A captivating story of courage and strength against terrible odds, this is the story of Midge, left to stay with her eccentric uncle during the holidays, and her adventures with the Various, a band of fairies. The existence of the Various, who are strange, wild, and sometimes even deadly, has been kept secret since the beginning of time, but when their world begins to clash with the human world, they are threatened with extinction.

This wonderfully imaginative story of love and loyalty is the first in a powerful trilogy. VOYA says of The Various: “A marvelous blend of oldfashioned storytelling, the book has a freshness and immediacy that will intrigue fantasy lovers of all ages.”

“A rousing addition to the durable genre of British fairy lit.”—New York Times

“Augarde unfolds the events gradually, allowing readers to luxuriate in the near-idyllic setting he has created and beckoning them back for future installments.”—Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A rousing addition to the durable genre of British fairy lit.”—New York Times

“Augarde unfolds the events gradually, allowing readers to luxuriate in the near-idyllic setting he has created and beckoning them back for future installments.”—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
PW called this tale set on Mill Farm, an old family homestead that turns out to be the ancient home of a panoply of magical beings, a "rich and atmospheric fairy tale." Ages 10-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Throughout history and across cultures, people's imaginations have often been ignited by the idea that the earth is populated by "little people." Steve Augarde builds on this intriguing idea in this first novel of what promises to be an exciting trilogy. Eleven-year-old Midge, whose mother is a professional musician, leaves her for the summer in the care of her uncle, who lives on an old farmstead in the English country. What had promised to be a very boring summer was suddenly enlivened when Midge discovered a small, wounded horse. The story shifts back and forth between Midge's adventure with the horse and the struggles of the five tribes of little people called "The Various." Eventually, of course, the two stories come together as the Various fight for their survival in the land of the "Gorgi," which is their word for the human giants who are taking more and more of their land. Augarde is a professional educator who has written over seventy children's books and who has produced artwork and music for two BBC children's series. He brings to his writing a keen understanding of the thinking, joys and fears of children, making this story one that will be hard to put down! The only disadvantage is that we have to wait for the sequels. 2004, David Fickling Books/Random House, Ages 10 to 14.
—Kathy Egner, Ph.D.
VOYA
This first story in a planned trilogy, a Nestle Smarties prizewinner, harks back to the classic fairy stories collected by Andrew Lang, with a bit of Natalie Babbitt's characters in the beautiful, wild Somerset Levels. Twelve-year-old Midge's glamorous mother is on tour with the orchestra, and Midge must make the best of staying with Mum's brother on the family farm. Exploring the deep woods nearby, Midge makes a startling discovery-five tribes of "little people, fairies," whose secret existence has always been threatened by humans, or "Gorji." But if Uncle Brian follows through on his plan to sell the land, they might be destroyed for good. A marvelous blend of old-fashioned storytelling, the book has a freshness and immediacy that will intrigue fantasy lovers of all ages. Readers will sympathize with the sad and dumpy little fairy queen, cheer the fragile and gutsy winged horse, and root for the star-crossed small lovers as they wonder how Midge and her cousins will save the Various, when the tribes seem determined to work against their own best interests. Augarde, who has illustrated more than seventy picture books and animated several BBC series, should garner a built-in audience for the next books. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, David Fickling Books/Random House, 448p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Mary Arnold
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-In this inventive and unusual fantasy, Midge, 11, is staying on her uncle's farm while her violinist mother is on tour. She is drawn into a disused barn by the "sound" of words inside her head-the voice of a small winged horse, one of the fairy folk, or "the Various," as they call themselves. She becomes involved in their dramas and adventures as she tries to ensure that their Forest, which her uncle plans to sell to a developer, remains safe for them to live in. Augarde's fairies are very much of this world: concrete and well realized in all of their physical details, down to their tattered clothes made from scraps of fabric. The climactic scene is exciting, and the one in which one of the Various shoots an arrow into the gigantic and fierce farmyard cat and kills it is powerfully visceral. There is an air of contrivance in the story's resolution, however, as it is through events in the adult world of Midge's family that the Forest is saved. This is somewhat anticlimactic, as the efforts of the Various to save themselves turn out to have been unnecessary. Midge's character is clearly delineated, but other human characters are less well developed. The strength of the novel lies in the sense of atmosphere, and the portrayal of the fairy characters, particularly Pegs, the winged horse. There are plot elements that do not come to fruition, which might indicate that a sequel is planned.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Nesbit-style fairy adventure made dark awaits Midge, the only child of her single mother, a musician. Midge has to stay with batty Uncle Brian while her mother goes on tour. Though she's furious at coming second with her mum, Midge loves Brian's farmhouse, especially when she finds Pegs, an injured winged horse, in an abandoned farm building. As Midge nurses Pegs back to health, he tells her of his people, the elflike Various, who live in Brian's forest. But Brian plans to sell the forest to developers. Midge and Pegs break ancient taboos and bring her into the enchanted wood to warn the other Various. The Various, conflicted by their own internal politics and bigotry, can't act effectively. After a slow-moving start, through an impenetrably dense thicket of pseudo-Victorian language, Augarde's story finally picks up to a suspenseful if incomplete conclusion. (Fiction. 10-13)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780440420293
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
11/08/2005
Series:
Touchstone Trilogy Series, #1
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.68(h) x 0.96(d)
Lexile:
960L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A week ago she had been bored, bored, bored. The prospect of spending most of the summer holiday in the West Country with her cousins wasn't so bad–although she could barely remember them, not having seen them for years–but for the first fortnight they would still be away with their mother somewhere, and so that meant staying on her own with Uncle Brian until they arrived.

Uncle Brian was her mother's elder brother. He was OK, as far as she could recall, but he was unlikely to be much fun. And anyway, she felt weird about living in some big old half-derelict farmhouse with just Uncle Brian for company.

'Do I have to go?' she asked her mum. 'Can't I wait until Katie and George get back? Couldn't I stay here till then?'

'Darling, you know you can't stay here all by yourself,' her mum had said. 'We've been through all this. Please don't make me feel any worse than I do already. You'll be fine, and anyway, Brian's easy enough to get along with. You'll remember him when you see him.'

Well, it was easy for her to say, thought Midge. Swarming around with the Philharmonic and having all the fun ('actually it's not much fun, darling, it's really quite hard work,') while she, Midge, had to kick about a deserted old farm waiting for her cousins to arrive.

'I still can't see why you don't take me with you,' she grumbled–although this was an old tack, and she knew it would get her nowhere. Worth a last try, though.

She remembered something else. 'Mr Powers takes his children.' Mr Powers was second oboe, and lived quite close by. They occasionally bumped into him in Safeway.

'Mr Powers does not take his children, Margaret. Mr Powers sometimes takes his wife and his children. There's a difference. And only then if it's just a weekend concert and not too far away. This is a four week tour, darling. Four weeks! Living in hotels, up late every night, flying around here there and everywhere. It's no life for a twelve-year-old.'

'Yeah, it sounds like hell,' said Midge, and knew even as she said it that she'd crossed one of those invisible lines that her mother drew around their conversations.

'Listen, Margaret. This is my job. It's what I do, and believe me it's not easy. I'm a single parent and a professional musician. The two don't always go together very well. Now Brian has very kindly said that he'll look after you for a few weeks, and I think we should both be extremely grateful. I know I am.'

Midge came within an inch of saying, 'Yeah, I bet,' but managed to bite back the words. She felt, as she had always felt, that the 'job' came first as far as her mother was concerned, and that her daughter was often an inconvenience, something to be organized, palmed off, dealt with. And lately things had become worse. Her mum seemed to be perpetually distracted and on edge–hardly there, somehow. The best times were when the orchestra was resting and there was time off from the otherwise constant round of rehearsal and performance. Then they got along pretty well. But as soon as a new tour was scheduled, Midge felt that she was just a nuisance, no longer deserving of much attention.

'Left playing second fiddle,' she often thought, wryly. Second fiddle was what her mother actually did play–although she didn't call it a fiddle of course.

And so she arrived at Taunton bus station after a two-and-a-half hour coach journey, collected her bags and magazines together, and tried to look through the dusty windows to see if her Uncle Brian had arrived to meet her. Midge recognized him almost straight away, although he looked a bit older now than when she had last seen him. He was peering up at the windows in the way that people do when they're meeting someone from a coach or train–smiling already, even though they can't yet see the person they're smiling for. He wore a very red jumper and those awful yellow corduroy trousers you only ever seem to see on people who live in the country. (Midge thought of herself as a 'townie', and a rather sophisticated one at that.) His hair–which Midge had remembered as being black–had gone much greyer, and he had a very definite bald patch, which she could clearly see from her high position in the coach.

'Hallo Midge! You look cheerful!' Uncle Brian stretched his arms out towards her as she got off the coach, and Midge wondered for a moment if he was going to kiss her, or shake her hand, or something embarrassing like that. But he was only reaching for her hold-all and carrier bags. 'Here, let me take those things. Had a good journey?'

'Not bad, thanks. How are you, Uncle Brian?'

'I'm extremely well, my dear. Can't grumble at all. Now then, let's see if we can't get you back home before the soup's ruined. Car's parked just round the corner, right opposite the Winchester.'

Midge remembered hearing about the way in which Uncle Brian's sense of geography always seemed to involve the name of a pub, or hotel. Her mum sometimes said that Uncle Brian would probably describe the Pyramids of Egypt as being 'just down the road from the Dog and Sphinx.'

Mum didn't seem to have much time for Uncle Brian–not that it stopped her from using him as a babysitter now that it suited her. 'He's a "nearly" man,' she would say. 'Good at everything–but not quite good enough at anything.' She had never forgiven him for inheriting Mill Farm, that was the trouble. Mum and Brian had grown up there as children. Mum had left home, gone to university and music college, then had become a professional musician and something of a success. Her brother Brian had stayed at Mill Farm, got married, fathered two children, separated, looked after his mother, Midge's granny, until she died, and then the farm had been left all to him.

'I got nothing,' Midge's mum would say bitterly. 'What a slap in the face that was. Nothing at all. It should have been shared between us. And what does Brian know about farming? Lived there all his life and still wouldn't know one end of a hay-rake from the other! Or rather he'd know how to fix it, without knowing when to use it. Tried pig-farming. Didn't work. Tried cider-making–planted acres of trees and used up God knows how much capital. Didn't work. Agricultural machinery auctions, bed and breakfast, go-karts–you name it, he's messed it up. He's messed up his life, the farm and his marriage. Brian's a fool. Or rather he's not, and that's the trouble. He's a nearly-man. Nearly good enough. But not quite.'

Yes, she could be pretty scathing, could Mum, when she got on to the subject of Brian. Until she wanted him to do something for her, of course.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“A rousing addition to the durable genre of British fairy lit.”—New York Times

“Augarde unfolds the events gradually, allowing readers to luxuriate in the near-idyllic setting he has created and beckoning them back for future installments.”—Publishers Weekly

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