Ariel, Zed and the Secret of Life

Anna Fienberg, Author Allen & Unwin Australia $5.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-86373-276-5
Ariel Windwood, aka ``Windy Weirdo,'' is used to living with the characters dreamed up by her author mother, even after they--literally--take on a life of their own. She is less prepared to share her home with the flesh-and-blood Zed, the sulky, withdrawn son of a family friend. Sensing the need for a change, Ariel's mother sends the two off to an island boasting a ``School for Rebellious Characters'' where ``characters are taught to behave as their authors decree.'' Ariel and Zed meet up with a host of notables including Sinbad, Electra and Ali Baba as well as the native inhabitants. The story picks up speed and gains focus with the introduction of Mr. Goodshot, an evil character who plots the demise of the island by exploiting its most precious resource, an elixir concocted by Merlin himself. Though the basic premise of this Australian import is clever, the feyness of the writing often pushes the limits. A surfeit of coy details (e.g., Ariel measures her front teeth, which are 1.3 centimeters long) destroys any pretense of spontaneity, so that the playfulness of the story seems forced. Ages 9-14. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
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