Friday, August 13, 2010

Book: Leo's Heroes

Time travel story involving toy theatre!
Then he did a strange thing. Leo saw him take a small twist of paper from his waistcoat pocket, unfold it, and scrutinise the contents. ‘Have you seen this before Leo?’ He held out the scrap of paper. There, glowing brightly, was a tiny sliver of blue rock.

Leo peered into the paper. ‘No, never seen anything that colour.’

Mr Pollock shook his head. ‘I got this last night from a friend of mine. He was telling me some strange nonsense about … ‘ The man put his hand on Leo’s shoulder. ‘I was wondering if you might be linked to it … you seem … so different to my usual boys. As though you don’t belong here.’

Leo put his finger to touch the blue rock, and as he did so, Benjamin Pollock shimmered before him in the growing darkness, his voice echoing ‘Don’t, don’t’, while Leo’s insides somersaulted, and he was tossed through a hot whirlwind to land on his duvet in his room, staring up at the red Chinese paper lampshade which was twisting crazily above his bed.

- From Leo's Heroes, by Mo Heard
As many readers know, there is an amazing shop in London called Pollock's Toy Shop, run by Peter Baldwin, ably assisted by Louise Heard.

Louise's mum, Mo Heard, has recently contacted me about a wonderful new book she has written. Toy Theatre is featured prominently in the book in a most creative manner, involving time travel. Shades of Doctor Who, anyone? I like what I've seen and heard so far!

Let me share a bit of what Mo has told me:
I'd like to tell you about my new children's book, Leo's Heroes, which features a time-traveling boy who meets real people from the past. In the first chapter he's whizzed to Benjamin Pollock's shop, and then later Mr. P gives him a show.

The whole story will gradually unfold on my children's blog (the outline of the Pollock story is up there already), and my own blog describes how I had the idea for the book.

There were two Victorian men - mudlarks - who duped the antiques world with their fakes of medieval medallions, (they were called 'Billys and Charleys') and I have Leo actually giving them the idea when he's zoomed back to the poverty-stricken East End!
The framework of how Mo is telling Leo's tales reminds me of the television series several years ago called The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.  In that series, director Steven Spielberg - using his famous film character Indiana as a little boy and young man - told stories of famous events and featuring famous people from history. I adored that series and the premise it used - pure genius I thought.

I think Mo is onto something using the same premise in her new book, and I'm delighted it features toy theatre in that premise. It’s a fun and creative way to get kids involved and excited (and learn) about history. As an avid local historian, and history fan in general, I’m all for it!

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