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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


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

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.
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)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Touchstone Trilogy Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.68(h) x 0.96(d)
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.

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

Meet the Author

Steve Augarde has worked as an illustrator, paper-engineer, and semi-pro jazz musician. He has written and illustrated over 70 picture books for young children, and has produced the paper-engineering for many pop-up books.

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The Various (The Touchstone Trilogy Series #1) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Twelve-year-old Midge has been sent to stay with her Uncle Brian at Mill Farm while her musician mother goes on tour. Though she's not sure what to expect, Midge never dreamed of the adventures she'd encounter at the farm. She stumbles upon an injured winged horse in one of the outbuildings and helps the creature. She learns the horse lives in the Royal Wood. Unfortunately, Uncle Brian has decided to sell the woods and they are set to be plowed down. Midge is led through the brambles and unkempt boundaries of the woods to share this dire news with the Various. While she'd heard stories of pixies and fairies, Midge never dreamed they existed and that she'd be drawn into their world. But things aren't always magical in the world of the Various and not everyone is happy to see her. Now the Various aren't the only ones in danger. THE VARIOUS is a thrilling book told from several different points of view as we learn about the characters both human and of the Various. Though the story moved slowly in places, the idea and characters are intriguing enough to keep the reader enthralled as the story progresses to the fantastic and thrilling ending. I enjoyed being introduced to THE VARIOUS and am looking forward to reading more about them and Augarde's other characters in CELANDINE, the second book in THE TOUCHSTONE TRILOGY.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Various was superb and guess what?!? The second book in the trilogy has come out!!! It is called Celandine. I haven't read it yet, oh but I will.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book at the request of my daughters but before either had a chance to read it, I picked it up, admiring the beautiful artwork on the cover. As I read the inside of the jacket, I thought to myself Hmmm...this looks interesting and opened to page one. Needless to say, neither of my girls have had the chance to read this book yet as I simply could not stop reading once I'd started. There are parts of the book that read like poetry and the artwork throughout, which was done by the author himself as well as the aforesaid cover, is just gorgeous. This is a beautiful, charming tale and what's really exciting is that apparently it's only the beginning - I see the author plans a trilogy. If you want to be completely caught up in a magical and miraculous world which combines both old-fashioned fantasy and a contemporary reality, this is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh how great it was ! I am now on the next book ! I hope the nexted one is even more! Good job steve keep it up
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a new twist... a more believable one... on all those old fairy tales you've heard before. Memorable characters... danger and suspense... all the elements of an excellent book! I can't wait for the other books in the trilogy to come out!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't belive that he was able to write this! It's soooooo cool! It was the absolute first book that I couldn't put down! It captivated me so much, I just love it! (Heyyyy. When's the next book com'n?)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who could put this book down? Not me, that's definite. All I'm curoius about is when is the 2nd one coming out?
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Various was a most amazing read! I couldn't put it down from the first page -- the story sucked me in from the opening chapter. The heroine of the book, twelve year old Midge, is a bright, sensitive girl who is unknowingly drawn into a magical and dangerous world of a tribe of mystical little people who have lived amongst her family for years and years in the adjacent woods on her uncle¿s farm. These are The Various ¿ a group of two foot tall creatures consisting of a class system parallel to real life -- the Ickri ¿ or the hunters and ruling class, the Tinklers ¿ artistic cave dwellers, and the Troggles, who were considered the lower rung of society. But all existed peacefully together in their common struggle to survive in a modern, ever-changing world alongside the humans, or Gorgi giants as they are humorously called by the author, without being detected. Every single character was original and distinct and made an instant impression. The tale begins with Midge¿s discovery of an injured tiny winged horse in an old barn on the property and takes the reader on an incredible journey from that point on. Will she discover the secrets of The Various? Will she help them survive? Or will they turn on Midge and her family as the enemy? The author is a master of setting up a scene and then drawing out suspense. There was an element of fear in some sections which had me on the edge of my bed, biting my nails, but nothing that would frighten a child¿it was more like ghost story scary. I turned page after page, wondering where it all would lead. and I never had a clue as to where it was headed, which added to the great enjoyment I had as a reader. This book has everything ¿ it¿s chock full of beautiful images, unique and startling characters, and dialogue that was offbeat, brilliant, and at times, very funny, making it one of the best I've ever read and I highly recommend that you pick this one up, whether you are an older child or teenager or even an adult.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It took me one week to read this book and it has to be one of the best books I have read. I told everyone at school and have even got my teacher reading it to the class. My bookshelf goes in order of favourite books and I never thought that my Harry Potter collection would move from the far left corner of my bookshelf. If the second book in this trilogy is as good then I'm sorry, but its goodbye Harry!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Various is the first novel of Steve Augarde and the first book in a projected trilogy. It is a fantasy set in the Somerset Levels - an area which Augarde knows well. A 12-year old child, visiting the area, finds a wounded and trapped winged Naiad horse in a pig barn and uses all her skill and resourcefulness to release it. From this meeting she is introduced to the tribes of The Various, tiny (knee-high) creatures who inhabit a nearby wood high above the wetlands, and who are under constant threat from their unwitting human neighbours. It is a delightful, engaging and often amusing book, which won a prestigious Smarties Award and should appeal to both adult and younger readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first part of a trilogy, I just couldn't put it down. It's no wonder the Author won the Nestle Smarties Book Prize.I personally think this is going to be a block-buster, and I can't wait for the next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I shall be forever grateful to my dear friend who gave me this book as a present. I'm not sure that I would have picked it out as an obvious read had I not been given it. Once started and drawn into this enchanting world, it was so difficult to put down when mundane chores beckoned. The narrative is so richly descriptive that you almost feel you are taking part in this intriguing plot yourself. It's as if you are there with them all, living their every emotion and experience. I love a book that keeps me thinking about it even when I'm not reading it, as this one surely does, and I believe that when the trilogy is complete it will take its rightful place alongside Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' and Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' It certainly leaves you wanting more¿¿¿..
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Ultimate modern day fairy tale ¿ You will be gripped from the very beginning of this magical story. I was captivated from page one and quite literally read through the night until I had finished this book ¿ the characters are exquisitely crafted and the story line itself is original and spellbinding throughout. I was so delighted with my `find¿ that I purchased a copy for almost everybody I know, from my youngest niece to my father (aged sixty something) as a Christmas gift last year and I have never been so popular!! Everyone loves it¿ `The Various¿ quite literally appeals to all ages and I firmly believe it will become a classic of our times. I cannot wait for the second part of this trilogy The Various was such an awesome read ¿ you will not be disappointed. If you love someone buy him or her this book (but read it before you hand it over!) On second thoughts you had better buy two copies..
Guest More than 1 year ago
When the story opens we are very much in the present, the mobile phone wielding Midge, a young girl from London is being shipped off to the countryside to stay with her eccentric Uncle. Midge's discovery of an injured winged horse in one of Uncle Brian's outbuildings provides the catalyst for an introduction to one of the most superbly realised band of characters ever to appear in children's literature. These are 'The Various'. A richly diverse society of five very different tribes of little people. The fierce and proud Ickri hunters, the spiritual Nai'ad farmers, the Wisp fishers and two mysterious underground tribes; all are brought together as the encroachment of humankind bears down on their world. As the narrative momentum rolled on, this reader found himself immersed in page turning adventure at its very best. The author blends the two worlds seamlessly and brings them together in a totally believable way to leave the reader thankful that this is just the first part of a trilogy. Bring on book two!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only a few reviews sqys not good but it sounds good should i
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Sixth! Ill takeany nest avalible. Creeksplash
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Curled up near skyleaf. -Onetail