The Flint Heart is a delightful fantasy, perfect for young readers or as a classroom or family read aloud. It delivers just the right amount of heart, the right amount of scary, and the right amount of wonder to enchant kids and adults alike. Told in a manner reminiscent of classic Winnie the Pooh, the story is beautifully paced and filled with characters that are memorable and most often humorous. The narrator's casual observations and witticisms will bring smiles to the faces of adult readers, while kids will be charmed by the honest, straight forward characters who are all trying so hard to overcome the evil that is the Flint Heart.
I have not read the original version of The Flint Heart which was published in 1910, so I have no way to compare the two. I have a feeling though that quite a bit of the original language was retained in this telling. It has an old fashioned, proper feel that would place it right at home in 1910. How the authors retained that feeling while still making it so accessible to today's young audience is a testament to their storytelling skill. While there are certainly words here that will challenge third and fourth grade readers, they are presented in such a way that kids will no doubt rise to the vocabulary challenge. Parents might have to chime in and explain what a hot water bottle is, but most fantasy fans will find themselves entranced by this delightful and sometimes ridiculous portrayal of fairies, pixies, and woodland life.
The plot is summarized quite ably in the product description, so I will only add my fondness for the morals of this story. The Zagabog, who is the "best, most brilliant, and the wisest creature in the universe" tells a charming rendition of the tortoise and the hare to illustrate the importance of looking at things from other points of view. Throughout the book, as different characters come in contact with The Flint Heart(resulting in much murder and mayhem), the need for kindness, and the importance of being modest and humble is consistently and quite charmingly discussed. Education and cleverness are held in high esteem among these fairies, as evidenced by the hilarious examination of the Jacky Toad, who must prove his cleverness before being allowed back into the Fairy Kingdom. DeQuincey, the pixie poet laureate, bemoans the fate of English prose while engaging in dialogue that is both wonderful and lyrical, something he is of course quite proud of.
Throughout this classic fairy tale, we see Charlie, a boy of twelve, and his little sister Unity. They are wonderful characters whose ability to face the troubles of having a father whose heart suddenly hardens with aplomb and cleverness will certainly engage readers. Their efforts to help the fairy kingdom, a hot water bottle down on his luck, and a decidedly education challenged Jacky Toad speak to the generosity of their spirits. This is a story that deserves a place on the shelf of classics of children's literature.
Finally, I must say that this is simply a beautiful book. The illustrations are works of art and add to the story. I eagerly looked forward to each one and my only complaint is that there weren't more! The heavy, glossy pages, illustrated chapter headings, and silhouettes that run along the sides and bottom only add to the overall beauty of this stylishly produced volume. The large font and good amount of white space combine to make sure this is a book young children will want to pick up. While The Flint Heart has some talk of head splittings, murders and other violence, it is all presented in a way that is not scary, suspenseful, intimidating or otherwise traumatizing to young readers. This is a wonderful children's classic re-told and abridged in a way that will make it relevant to any young reader. Not to be missed
*This item was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.