Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 04 Jun 2024

Temira Burtons and the Magic Lantern by Dawn Funnell

I was intrigued to have the chance to read the further adventures of this intrepid time travelling young girl whose perilous escapade in Ancient Egypt was so engaging.

Temi Burtons is once again staying with her eccentric Aunt Guin who lives in a pink, thatched cottage in a Norfolk Market Town. Her mother is still away from home ’finding herself’ which gives Temi the space to live a more independent, if rather dull life. She earns a bit of pocket money by walking Chesterton, the very smelly dog who belongs to the owner of the local antique shop. She is also starting to fret about the new school term because she isn’t a fan. When Aunt Guin explains that she is going to start her own school as a solution, she is reassured but understandably nervous. The only other pupils will be her friends Charlie and Precious, and they will apparently learn about really important questions such as ‘where does belly-button fluff come from?

Before all that, Aunt Guin suggest another visit to her ramshackle attic which is full of unexplored treasures. There they find a dusty old Magic Lantern which triggers many happy memories of fantastical images. 

I enjoyed reconnecting with some of the memorable characters form the last story, especially Romeo the outrageously rude Robot who works in Mrs Betteridge’s Emporium of Everything Useful and Bob Bum-Bum the Baker. But disturbing changes are threatening the cosy little town as there are plans by the ghastly Barry Balderdash for modernising the place to make it ’shiny and new’. Aunt Guin and most of the other townsfolk are up in arms but they have a fight on their hands. All this uncertainty is set against the backdrop of rumours and recent sightings of the legendary ‘Black Shuk’ who augers bad things. Temi is inspired to ask for help from the little demi-god Bess who had proved to be so helpful in the past – if one has access to magical beings, this seems like a very good plan! 

I won’t reveal what happens next as you need to read about the various roller coaster twists and turns for yourselves. Suffice to say that it involves plotting with splatter guns and broomsticks on the home front to defy the development plans. We also realise that Barry Balderdash is an archetypal monster who can transform himself into a ‘demotic Wildman’. Bess recognises him from his incarnation as Hyde in Victorian London! Will they be able to defeat him, perhaps with the help of Black Shuk? Or are they in cahoots? By chapter seven the three children and Romeo are travelling to find the Time Machine with Bess, Lancelot the Myna Bird and Astarte, who is half unicorn and half Pegasus. They eventually get to the outskirts of Victorian London with a rather scary diversion to earth 150 million years ago where they meet a Diplodocus baby and his mother. London itself is described in great detail and offers plenty more hair- raising experiences before they are eventually able to return back to Norfolk.     

I recommend this fantasy story which includes some interesting historical factual information. It should be available to order from your local independent bookshop or direct from the author website

Karen Argent

June 2024