Friday, July 27, 2012

Author Spotlight: Roger Hurn Part 1

Today and Tuesday, I am highlighting the author Roger Hurn and a couple of his books which I quite enjoyed. Also I hope you enjoy the guest post that Roger has so graciously provided.

About the author:

Roger Hurn is the author of over 70 books for children, including The Mystery Mob series, The Alien Detective Agency and The Spook Squad. He is well known for his author visits to schools and has enormous experience as an educator having taught at all levels from Nursery to Higher Education. His experience led to him being a consultant advisor to the UK Home Office and the Children’s Directorate.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Beware of Faery stories.  They say that if you kiss a frog you’ll meet a handsome prince.  But what if you meet someone who means you harm?  Someone who steals children.  Someone like the Pied Piper. 

Everybody knows the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, but there is a legend that the Piper reappeared nearly 100 years later in the town of Newtown on the Isle of Wight.  He stole the children from there too.  For me, this raised some interesting questions: 
·        Where did the Piper and his apparently magical flute come from? 
·        Why did the Piper keep stealing children? 
·        Where did he take them? 
·        How could he travel through time? 

So I visited the Isle of Wight to research the background to the legend. I discovered that the French attacked Newtown in 1377, but there were no young men there to fight them off.

So, did this lend credence to the story that the Piper had in fact taken the children some years before? Well, probably not. An outbreak of the plague is the more likely explanation for the lack of able bodied young men in the town - but it got me thinking what if the legend had really happened? And what if two of the children had escaped from the Piper’s clutches and reappeared near Newtown today with the Piper in hot pursuit?

The questions kept on buzzing round my head and demanding answers.  So, in the end, the only way I could find any peace was to write the story.
I’m glad I did but it led me into some scary places in the company of some deliciously evil villains – the most terrifying being the mysterious Hooded Lady.  She out sinistered the Pied Piper without breaking sweat.  Now I’m not someone who is afraid of the dark but, after spending time in her company, I had to sleep with the light on!

What happened to the two children who escaped from the Piper’s clutches?  Did they make it home safely?  And what did happen when the Piper reappeared in our world?  Well, the only way to find out is to read Something Wicked This Way Comes for yourself – if you dare!

Roger Hurn 2012

by Roger Hurn
Endeavour Press Ltd, 2012
Grades 3 and up
Reviewed from e-copy downloaded free from Amazon.

There are many fairy tale retellings on the market right now.  Cinderella and Snow White seem to be especially popular, the new movies coming out doesn't hurt any. But this is the first Pied Piper retelling that I've come across, and it is good.  I'm going to try to do this without spoilers because there are some great twists and turns in this story. 

Ritchie and his sister, Lizzie are stunned when they discover two children in Piper's Wood that seem to have come from the past. That's not possible is it? And yet the clothes the two wear and the way they speak clearly indicate they are not from the area.  When Will and Alice realize they haven't returned home like they had hoped, Lizzie is determined to help them, but with the Piper after them, this could be more dangerous than she thinks.  When Lizzie and Ritchie find out about the Hooded Lady they become truly freaked out, especially when someone seems to follow them home from the woods.  Can they truly help Will and Alice return home? And what about the piper and the Hooded Lady? 

I have to say that my favorite part of this story was the name-calling fight between Ritchie and Will.  Both boys are confident and want to be the leader, they clash from the time they meet. But seriously with insults such as, "Thou mewling, swag-bellied clotpole!" and "you gusset", I had to snicker.  I think Will wins that round.  Of course, not being British I'm sure that I don't appreciate these insults the way I should. Despite the conflict I enjoyed the way the kids all worked together to try to solve their problems.  Sensible Lizza, sweet Alice, stubborn Will, and irritable Ritchie make a pretty formidable combination.

Plotwise, just when I thought I knew where the story was going it took a strange twist.  Is the stranger following the kids really the piper or is he someone else? What about Madame Sastia at the carnival, can she really see the future? What about Mr. Davies, Lizzie's suddenly new flute instructor, who shows up out of the blue? I better stop there before I give anything away, because I assure you, you will enjoy the magical and dangerous twists and turns that the children face. The only problem I had was when I realized that the ending wasn't really an ending at all, just a pause.  I wanted the next book available to read, like now.  

Be sure to turn in Tuesday for part II to hear about Roger's short story about a group of children in a club called the Lions, who are forced to separate when they are sent from London during the Blitz.  


  1. I agree this Pied Piper tale is definitely new and interesting. I kind of wish the angle weren't so dark, but that seems to be the way fairy tales run these days. Would love to see even more tales that aren't so well-known get some attention!

    1. Interestingly, I've come across two more retold versions of the Pied Piper recently, The Children of Hamelin by Danny Lasko and shoot, I can't remember the other one. Sigh. Too many books to keep track of.


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