While fairly unknown in the U.S., Magnason is an acclaimed author in his native Iceland. His sly, smart parable, first published in 1999, takes aim at the central dilemma of the developed world: is it ethical to be happy at the cost of others' suffering? The tranquil Blue Planet, inhabited only by children, is jolted when fast-talking grownup Gleesome Goodday parachutes in and teaches its children to fly. (To supply the service on a permanent basis he charges them, insidiously, just the tiniest fraction of their youth.) Blown off course, friends Brimir and Hulda find out quite by chance that because they can fly, another group of children has no sunlight, safety, or food. Mr. Goodday is unruffled by their discovery: "There's as much happiness in the world now as there was previously, it's just been readjusted," he says. Dahl-like wit and a couple of eccentrically Arctic moments (seals are for eating, and Brimir and Hulda suckle the milk of a she-wolf) make this a memorable and provocative tale, and a splendid opener for discussions about our own blue planet. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
Gr 4-6--Those who enjoyed Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grimm (Dutton, 2010) may find Magnason's cautionary ecological tale a perfect complement. Like Gidwitz, Magnason does not shy away from graphic descriptions of danger and death. That being said, as in all good fables, he begins with once upon a time and readers learn of an innocuous-looking blue planet floating in space. It is inhabited solely by children, who live an idyllic, although somewhat savage life (they hunt for food, even clubbing seals). They are happy and this is most fully realized once a year when the butterflies of the Blue Mountains follow the sun across the sky, a beautiful and breathtaking sight. But as in all good tales and life itself, things are never static. Enter the villain, Mr. Goodday, who lands on the planet and is discovered by the protagonists, Brimir and Hulda. Mr. Goodday, over the course of a very short time, corrupts the children by giving them the power to fly and by introducing them to, among other things, the concept of selfishness. In the process the planet is corrupted as well, affecting the entire ecosystem. After a number of harrowing events, Mr. Goodday is outsmarted by Hulda, who offers to fulfill his greatest wish in return for restoring the children and planet to their former states. Well-paced, with some wonderful, story-enhancing color illustrations.--Mary Beth Rassulo, Ridgefield Library, CT[Page 168]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.