Skip to main content

The Chronicles of the Black Tulip: The Vanishing Island, Book 1, by Barry Wolverton, 338 pp, RL 4



In 2012 I reviewed Neversink, a superb, Watership Down-esque tale of animals living in the Arctic Circle by Barry Wolverton. I've been waiting three years to see what he does next and The Vanishing Island, the first book in the Chronicles of the Black Tulip series is every bit as exciting as Neversink and inventively set in the alternate past of 1599!

As The Vanishing Island begins, we meet twelve-year-old Bren Owen, resident of Map. The town of Map is the "dirtiest, noisiest, smelliest city in all of Britannia," which is an alternate version of England. Being the home of McNally's Map Emporium, naturally, Map is also a vital port in the age of exploration, which is dominated by the the Netherlands and their Dutch Bicycle & Tulip Company. As the son of a map draftsman, a dull job with no room for advancement, Bren is desperate to leave Map for a life at sea and makes his third attempt at stowing away as the book begins. When his plans go awry, Bren finds himself indentured to the powerful Rand McNally (a slightly anachronistic joke on the part of the author) and working in his vomitorium. It's there that Bren's journey begins.

While everything about this book, from the title to the cover art to the character of Bren, makes it clear from the start that a sea voyage will be a large part of the novel, it takes over 100 pages for him to set sail. The time on land is spent world building and layering in ancient myths, fables and historical facts that include Kublai Khan and Marco Polo to the mystery that Bren will encounter once he is at sea. Finally on board the Albatross, the mysterious Captain Bowman, Bren's seeming benefactor, begins to reveal his true intentions and Bren, after fulfilling his duties, wants only to return home. Instead, he ends up finding the mysterious Vanishing Island and the treasure that the Captain was after and setting the stage for what promises to be a VERY exciting second book in the series.

Source: Review Copy



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started books4yourkids.com in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …