Having studied Greek and Latin at St. Andrews University, Robert J. HarrisÂ (Bob) writesÂ children’sÂ fantasiesÂ andÂ historical novelsÂ and isÂ best known for his collaborations withÂ Jane Yolen. He also designed the fantasy board gamesÂ TalismanÂ and, recently,Â Â Mythgardia.Â His latest children’s book from Kelpies is The Day The World Went Loki â€“ a title which hints at his efforts to put his extensive knowledge of the Classics to good use.
He says, Â “The starting point for this story was that magical feeling you get on special days. We know what that’s like on Christmas and birthdays, but there’s something particularly magical about special days you don’t see coming. For example, when school is closed because of snow and you have an unforeseen day off to do what you want.
So I supposed that there had at one time been eight days of the week but that one had been removed from the calendar and forgotten about. In the story, brothers Greg and Lewis McBride find a rhyme that will conjure up this lost day for the first time in centuries.”
Loki’s day, conjured up simply to avoid a maths test, Â turns everybody in town into trolls, pixies and ogres, and the buildings of St. Andrews into castles and temples.Â Unfortunately for them, Loki turns up in person and he isn’t going to let his day end. Greg and Lewis have to work out how to defeat the mischievous God and turn their world back to normal.
The book is written with great wit and an abundance of one-liners but what I particularly like about it is that it is the younger brother, Lewis, who has the brains and common sense to work out what the problem is and how to solve it, not the older brother. These are reluctant heroes, hiding from the girl who fancies them, the nutty aunt, and homework. They are, despite Greg’s laziness and tendency to assume the credit for anything and everything that goes well, likeable lads and this is a fun story that rattles along and works on every level.
Harris (Bob) doesn’t talk down to his readers. He assumes they can work out that Greg is lazy and Lewis is smart, that Lindsay has a crush on Greg. His dialogue is clever and entertaining, though not beyond the ages of his characters, one for Sunday Times and QI afficionados.