A short book that successfully combines imaginative and intriguing ideas with a tight and clever plot. It’s dyslexia friendly too!
The Griffin map is the most important piece of technology in the city of Copperport. It shows the entire country of Moreland and includes portals that let the wardens travel into the map to help people – and to maintain law and order. The Griffin family have been wardens of the map ever since Great Grandma Griffin invented it. Grace is desperate to become a warden like everyone else in her family but, at thirteen, she has another two years to wait. Until she finds herself alone in the map room when the distress call comes in. She might not be allowed, but surely she has no choice but to go if someone needs their help. What could possibly go wrong?
This short book is bursting with the imaginative and intriguing ideas that I’ve come to associate with Vashti Hardy’s stories. I simply love the idea of the Griffin map, portals that allow travel to different locations in Moreland, and the re-compass (a pocket-sized device that allows them to teleport home). This world building is all the more impressive when you consider how few words are used to create it.
While the underlying concept and well-realised setting are undoubtedly what make this book so special, they remain in their right place as a supporting role to a tight and clever plot that’s just the right length for the 104-page book. (I’m not going to say much more as I don’t want to give too much away).
There’s also some strong characterisation – particularly the interplay between Grace and her brother Bren. However, without doubt my – and I suspect many readers’ – favourite character has to be clockwork raven Watson. I particularly smiled when I read how Watson is responsible for elements of Grace’s training and enjoyed trying to imagine being bossed around by a bird!
Before finishing this review, it’s worth noting that The Griffin Gate is part of Barrington Stoke’s ‘Super-readable’ series with black text on a pale-yellow page and a unique dyslexia friendly type face that’s designed to help more people love reading. Tested for children and young people by children and young people, it’s a perfect book to help reluctant or dyslexic readers begin to develop a love of literature.
If you enjoyed this, you might want to read one of Vashti Hardy’s other books – why not try her Blue Peter Book Award winning Wildspark? Or my personal favourite – Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy. Alternatively, if you’re looking for another dyslexia friendly middle-grade adventure from Barrington Stoke, you might like to try Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson or mark 1st April in your diary when they will release Featherlight by Peter Bunzl.
Publication Date: October 2020
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Author: Vashti Hardy