BOOKBLOG: Emma Carroll

Sky Chasers: an incredibly fun adventure with a chunk of Science and History thrown in!

dssbxltw0aacwna(I took Sky Chasers with me on a VERY chilly day in the park. I feel Magpie and Pierre would approve)

“An encounter with a boy dangling from the sky changes pickpocket Magpie’s life forever. Like her, the boy dreams of flying over the rooftops of Paris. His family, the Montgolfiers, are desperate to be first to discover the secret of flight. Together with Pierre, Magpie is soon caught up in a world of inflatable bloomers, spies and a trio of unruly animals in a race to be the first to fly a hot air balloon – in front of the King and Queen of France.”

Sky Chasers opens with the most incredible, pacey 2 chapters that I couldn’t wait to read on. In the first 2 chapters you are introduced to the brilliant Magpie, a young woman who is stealing to keep herself and her pet cockrel alive. She’s asked to steal a box from a very fancy house. There’s a mysterious woman who hires her to steal this box. Unfortunately for Magpie, she doesn’t manage to steal the thing that she’s been hired for, and the mysterious woman is not happy. She threatens Magpie. She says she will keep an eye on Magpie. And man, from that I WAS HOOKED.

This amazing book tells the story of the Montgolfier family and their race to beat the British to be the first to achieve flight. You meet the young Pierre and his father at the beginning of the book, innocently attempting to fly something and Magpie (our brilliant, charismatic thief) stumbles upon them and has to save the day. What ensues is a brilliant mix of friendship, kindness, science and a some special guests from history!

Through reading this you’ll have these questions answered:

  • How does Marie Antoinette end up with a lamb?
  • Why are there so many poultry in this book?
  • Why is Pierre’s uncle so mean?
  • What do ladies underwear and fire have to do with hot air balloons?
  • Why are there English spies in France?
  • How can Magpie be an incredible role model for young girls now?

Emma Carroll is a relatively new author to me (I know, I have no idea HOW either!) but I absolutely fell in love with Letters from the Lighthouse (based in WW2: review here) so when I found out she was writing another book, I had to get my hands on it. Now I need all of the Emma Carroll books as I’m totally gripped.

There’s an incredible sense of BEING in the book with the characters. I felt like I was in France with Magpie. It’s amazing when you feel like you’re in a story, or when you want to be friends with the characters in the story. I definitely wanted to be Magpie’s friend. She’s one of those excellent little gems you find in stories.

This book is just great. The kids at school are really loving it. There’s already a very long list of Year 5s and 6s who want to read this… so here’s hoping! I might have to get another copy of it for them to share! It’d be a great book to link in some history of 18th Century France, or some Science linked to Forces, but I mean. READ IT BECAUSE IT’S BRILLIANT… 

I must take a moment here to appreciate the incredible cover, designed by one of my favourite illustrators David Litchfield (of The Bear and the Piano fame!). I think it encapsulates the book so brilliantly. It is definitely one I would pick up! It has total shelf appeal! There’s also some incredible pages throughout the book with the “One for sorrow, two for joy” magpie poem which I thought was a brilliant addition. 

The idea for Sky Chasers came from an original idea by Neal Jackson (winner of The Big Idea Competition) based on the true story of the first hot air balloon flight over Paris!

Thank you so much to the incredible people over at Chicken House for sending me a copy of this book. You guys are brilliant!

If you could go back to any period of time in history, when would it be?
Do you have a favourite book based in history to recommend to me?
Have you read Sky Chasers? Do you love Magpie as much as I do?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I would love to talk about this amazing book with you!

S x