Tashi and the Wicked Magician and Other Stories
Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg
Geoff Kelly and Kim Gamble
Allen & Unwin, 2014
hbk., 96pp., RRP $A19.99
If I were asked to name one of the most popular series for newly independent readers that has endured over my time as both a teacher and a teacher librarian, I would undoubtedly answer, “Tashi”. And just as Miss 8 has reluctantly come to the end of reading the series, a new one is released much to our delight!
Unlike the previous titles in the series, this has not two but five separate stories in it, each one featuring that delightful little character who is so clever, resourceful and brave as he confronts fearsome opponents set on destroying his village and his peace. This time there’s a magician with a greedy plan, a haunted house about to go up in flames, ruthless ruffians after a rare orchid, and a quest for the bravest person in the land to face the fire-breathing Red Whiskered Dragon.
Also unlike the previous titles, this one is in hardback not paperback and the illustrations are in colour rather than the monochromatic ones we are used to. But regardless of the differences, Tashi is the same little hero we know and love and whether this is another in the series, as it is for Miss 8, or the first time a child has met him, he will become a friend for life.
Back in the days when I was co-ordinating Read Around Australia I ran a book rap based on all the Tashi novels published at the time. Small groups of students selected one story and had to write a synopsis and then pose a series of questions that would challenge the thinking of other students around Australia who had to answer them. What they discovered was that each story threw up a number of ethical questions that could be discussed and debated and so they became so much more than an introduction to fantasy and an easy read. These new stories are similar – is saving the greedy Baron’s treasure a worthy cause worth risking your life for?
For those of you wanting to start your year off with something special, then check out A Flight of Fantasy, a unit of work based on the series and available for free through the National Digital Learning Resources Network. Log into your Scootle account and search for R11582. It’s written for Years 5/6 but can easily be adapted for younger students.
Tashi and the Wicked Magician and Other Stories could be just the very thing you have been looking for to give students a great kickstart to the year and have them buzzing about reading and the library for the rest of it.