Shortlisted in the 1998 Adelaide Festival AwardsShortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award in 'The Best Book to Keep Forever' category (2001)
Odo Hirsch is an Australian doctor and management consultant who writes adult and children's fiction.
Be careful of what you wish for and what is required to get it-is only one of the lessons covered in Hirsch's (author of the Antonio S. series) charming fantasy about the perils of desire. Legendary "mouth-watering melidrops" grow in the young Queen's empire, faraway in the south in a time when refrigeration, air travel and electricity have yet to be invented. "The Queen had tasted every fruit that grew in her seven countries, every single fruit except the melidrop." After hearing about the delicious fruit that must be eaten the day it is picked, nothing else will do. Laced with humor, the novel, told by an omniscient narrator, deposits little gems along the way (when the Queen pretends the melidrop does not exist, for instance, the narrative advises, "When you try to pretend something doesn't exist, you end up spending more time thinking about it than you ever did before"). Sutton Prufrock, ancient world traveler and expert on melidrops, suggests that it will take "Inventiveness, Desperation and Perseverance" to locate a melidrop for her Royal Highness and bring it back while it is still fresh. The explorer extraordinaire Bartlett is the man for the job-if she can wait seven months. The merits of honesty and resourcefulness waft through this lighthearted adventure tale. Even the Queen herself learns a lesson she doesn't bargain for as she waits for the melidrop to be procured-the importance of patience and trust. Ages 8-14. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 3-6-A young monarch may rule over seven lands, but she can't stop obsessing over tasting a delicious fruit that grows far to the south of her realm and is only edible on the day it is picked from the tree. Because she is too busy being queen to make the journey herself, she sends the intrepid adventurer Bartlett and his trusty friend Jacques le Grand to fetch her a melidrop by any means possible. Bartlett's solution to the problem of how to transport it by boat for months without its turning to mush is both obvious and deliciously inventive. While the two are meeting people and having exciting experiences, the queen slowly and reluctantly comes to terms with her preoccupation and, in the process, becomes a better person and ruler. This fantasy/parable is funny, and the characters are drawn with a deft touch that raises it above many others. While similar in its timeless, fairy-tale setting to Gail Carson Levine's fantasies, this story, with its wry wisdom, is most reminiscent of James Thurber's Many Moons (Harcourt, 1943). The small black-and-white illustrations offer understated yet poignant depictions of the characters, the royal court, and the seafaring life, nicely complementing the text. A quiet gem.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.