Sunday, July 18, 2010

review: the emerald casket

the emerald casket: the billionaire's curse book II, richard newsome (text)

by jolly what fun! i loved the billionaire's curse numero uno and number two is just as spiffing.
gerald, ruby and sam are enjoying their summer after the horrible events with sir mason green and the creepy thin man (who smells of bleach) and the golden rod and the crypt with the rats...hoo boy was it an exciting tale. now they've been invited to india to stay with alisha and mr gupta. india is loud and busy and exciting. mr gupta's house is extravagant and plush with lots of croissants and sweet lime juice (completely innappropriately i kept thinking about the darjeeling limited and jason schwartzman and the sweet lime, not appropriate at all). then it appears that the second of the three caskets (which belonged to gerald's family many, many, many years ago) is hidden somewhere in india and our gang of four must find it before the evil sir mason green does. of course trouble is afoot and soon gerald, the wisecracking twins ruby and sam, and alicia are dodging ninjas and creepy fortune tellers and bandits - and they're not exactly sure who to trust. then there's the question of this mysterious fraternity.

i love gerald and the billionaire's curse for a number of reasons:

  1. it is a lot of fun and doesn't take itself too seriously.
  2. from the first chapter - nay, the first PAGE - it sets a cracking pace and the story is totally gripping.
  3. it doesn't rest itself irrevocably in reality - give me billionaire 13 year olds and private jets where you can ride on plastic trays for plane sledding during take off (and then turn the plane around just so you can do it again!), give me twists of fate, and lucky breaks.
  4. the hint of james bond accompanied by lashings of enid blyton.
  5. in the emerald casket, newsome mentions the tsunami and manages to include it in the story, plus he acknowledges (but doesn't make a massive point of it) england's colonisation of india - hopefully aussie kids will find this interesting and ask some questions.
richard is blogging at inside a dog this month and the other day he discussed amateur internet reviewers. i guess i'm not an amateur because i am paid to review children's books when i'm not on the internet, but on my blog i am more likely to offer my personal reaction as well as a more considered, objective review. so i'm not a kittykat with a book and a feather, nor am i hannibal lecter.
i think i'm definitely more like this:
(and it's not because of my neck-beard or penchant for planet-sized earrings).


  1. Content and grammar editing were lacking in both books, but the first was worse than the second. For instance, I cringed when I read that 'Gerald said he wanted to look at the lay of the land', in book one. However, my daughter enjoyed book one and is finishing Ink Spell before moving to book two. She's the target market at age 11 I suppose, so who am I to complain?

  2. do you mean because it is a fairly old mannish thing to say? that's what i love! how these kids say things that you'd expect from sherlock holmes or even poirot! this is classic storytelling!

  3. or are my content and grammar skills lacking too?!! i'm still learning...

  4. Hi Tassie Devil, I think the whole point is that your daughter (not an adult, but in the age bracket the book is aimed at), enjoyed it. It'd be a pretty boring literary world if authors wrote books that pleased children's parents but bored the socks off the kids. But I must say that I as an adult enjoyed Billionaire's Curse and I'm thoroughly looking forward to my kids finishing our copy so I can see what Gerald and the twins get up to next.

  5. I mean it should be the lie of the land not lay as an example of bad grammar.
    Since anonymous hasn't got to book two yet, I'll use an example of editing being needed for content from the first. 'And that is how Constable Lethbridge of the London Metropolitan Police was found by his colleagues the next morning: slumped face down....' page 6. We're not Americans, we don't need summaries of what has been said already. That recurs consistently.
    Yes Anonymous, you don't have to please me just to please my kids, (I was trying to make that point) but a good story (although heavily smacking of JK Rowling) could have been enhanced by some passing attention being given to editing.

  6. well i am going to throw my two cents in here and say simply that i LOVED IT and who really cares about grammar? 11 year olds dont. im 20 and still dont. and to be totally honest, lay or lie? cripes. it's like caaahstle or caaaaaaaaastle.

  7. Bad grammar is one step away from ambiguity. It spoils the reading experience. That's why publishers employ editors.

  8. I assume you mean 'poor grammar', as opposed to 'naughty grammar'. Hate for there to be any ambiguity...

  9. I met the author and he said they thoroughly proof check it at least 10 times before it is published.

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hey anonymousauruses - give yourselves a name. a nom de plume, a nom de blog. it's more fun that way.