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Losing the Plot

By Annaleise Byrd

Reviewed by Mia Macrossan

Brisbane based debut author Annaleise Byrd has produced an action packed portal fantasy sure to appeal to middle grade readers who like their fairy tales funny, fast and full of surprises.
Ever since young Lucy stepped inadvertently into that cupboard and discovered Narnia writers have been devising ways and means to transport their characters from our own mundane world into magical lands. In Losing the Plot Basil, the main character, matches a swan on a bookmark with the swan in an old edition of The Complete Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, brought in as scary reading matter by his neighbour Terry, and before you know it, Gretel of Hansel and Gretel fame whooshes into the room begging for help.
Basil Beedon and Terry Clegg  have very little in common. Terry loves sport and Basil loves books – but to Basil’s absolute dismay, he’s been roped into helping Terry with his reading hence the appearance of Grimm. When Gretel persuades the boys to help her find Hansel who has disappeared, they are both plunged into an adventure that tests them both, for if Hansel is not found in time for the witch to check his finger for fatness, a Plot Hole will occur and everyone will be in Deep Trouble.
Basil and Terry galumph around in the fairy tale world meeting princesses, witches, and even Rumpelstiltskin and only just surviving multiple crises. To Basil’s  surprise Terry has a lot to contribute, he is much more than just a sports jock while Basil himself doesn’t always shine as expected in the brains department. The developing friendship  between these two gives the story its heart and holds the improbable plot together.
Annaleise has a penchant for wry humour and unusual similes which are liberally sprinkled throughout e.g., ‘I felt myself beginning to unravel like a roll of toilet paper thrown over a cliff’ p16, her voice was as wobbly as a jelly in a jumping castle, p43,  and  ‘changed his mind faster than a dog sniffing an electric fence’ p110. This combined with the plentiful jokes and puns create a hugely enjoyable tale sure to delight children familiar with the Grimm oeuvre.
Its short length of 135 pages make it an ideal crossover title for those children making the jump from highly illustrated chapter books, e.g. Ivy Newt and the Storm Witch to those with none. The content is still as funny and accessible s what they are used to but the format is just that little bit older.
Note: Basil and Terry are set to return for another adventure in the forthcoming sequel Down the Plot Hole.
Annaleise talks to StoryLinks about her journey to becoming a published author here.
Walker Books Australia 2024
Annaleise Byrd


1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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