Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry / The Night of Wishes

It’s great to see The New York Review of Books bringing forgotten children’s books back for a new audience; they have some wonderful titles on their list. Here are two recent ones:

Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry
Rosalie K. Fry
New York Review Children’s Collection

As a child I was an avid collector of Puffin Books and had one with a Welsh setting called Snowed Up by Rosalie Fry, so her name rang a bell when I received this review copy.
It’s a tale of erstwhile city dweller, ten year old Fiona McConville who goes back to live with her grandparents in a village on the Scottish coast.
With her she takes memories of her lost little brother Jamie whose cradle had been swept from the shore of Ron Mor several years before, and disappeared at sea.
From her Grandfather she learns that fishermen tell tales of a child of the seals; could this possibly be her lost brother? Fiona determines to find out.
Poetically told and imbued with folklore of the Western Isles, and illustrated with line drawings by the author, this magical tale was the basis for the classic film, The Secret of Roan Inish.
It’s a small treasure.

The Night of Wishes
Michael Ende illustrated by Regina Kehn
New York Review Children’s Collection

It’s New Year’s Eve; Shadow Sorcery Minister Beelzebub Preposteror is in his laboratory when he discovers he has a visitor. It’s one Maledictus Maggot, come to remind him that he has only until midnight to fulfil his contractual obligations re pollution, extinction of species, tree destruction, plague and devastation, or have his powers rescinded – a ‘personal foreclosure ex-officio’ is how Maggot puts it.
There is seemingly, only one way to avert this terrible fate; Beelzebub must collaborate with his aunt Tyrannia Vampirella (who has also received a similar ultimatum) in the brewing of the ‘Satanarchaeolodealcohellish Notion Potion’. This dastardly and powerful spell will, on New Year’s Eve alone, grant its imbiber a wish for every glass downed in a single gulp.
Can the two possibly accomplish the task in the face of an attempt to counter the plan from animal spies, Beelbezbub’s cat Mauricio and Tyrannia’s raven Jacob, and hence save the world from destruction?
Written by the author of The Neverending Story and translated by Heike Schwarzbauer and Rick Takvorian, this twisting, turning comic fantasy of good versus evil should enthral older readers, who will appreciate the word play and injections of verse. Regina Kehn’s wonderful illustrations, and the ticking clocks throughout, add to the atmosphere.

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