Skip to main content

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling by Tony Cliff, 272 pp, RL: Middle Grade

When I reviewed Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff in 2013, I began by apologizing for the reductionist comparison between his insanely awesome character, Delilah Dirk, and Indiana Jones. But the thing is, Delilah Dirk is the closest I have found in all my reading to a girl character that I have no doubt could overcome the supposed reluctance boys have to reading books with main characters who are girls. But, this is all beside the point. The bottom line is that Tony Cliff has created a character and a world that is completely immersive and absorbing. Upon finishing Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling, I felt as though I had read a 300 page novel and watched a fantastic movie. Seriously, these books are so beyond superlatives. I hope I can write about it coherently enough to convince you to give them a try! Enjoy several pages of Cliff's superb illustrations to find a short summary of book two in what I hope is a long series...

Of course I don't want to give away too much of the plot of Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling, but rather tempt you with some key details. Delilah Dirk, daughter of a Greek mother and English father who was a foreign ambassador, allowing him to provide a well traveled and uncommon childhood for his only child, and Erdemoglu Selim, former Turkish janissary and killer tea maker, have been traveling companions for two years. While not avoiding conflict, sword fights and occasional gun battle, the two have been mostly staying out of trouble - until they cross paths with Major Jason Merrick in Portugal where the British are preparing to battle the French in the Peninsular War. Merrick decides to frame Delilah for his treasonous activities and she does not go lightly, taking a bullet to the arm in the process. Of course Delilah and Selim escape and she insists on returning to England to confront Maj. Merrick and restore her reputation. Selim is a loss to understand Delilah's insistence, but he follows her to a country and class of people who assume he is her servant. 

Cliff brings great character development to Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling, both for Delilah and Selim. While there is plenty of action and fight after fight, the personalities, motivations and struggles both face are so compelling - as compelling as Delilah's strong jawline and voluminous hair. And, happily, with her return to England and her familial estate, we get to see where Delilah inherited these physical - and personality traits from!

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Source: Review Copy


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!


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…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…