by Michel Faber
Apparently, this novel was written to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens. . As such, Michel Faber wonderfully inserts little allusions to various novels written by Dickens. (ie. Beak House, Magwhich) If you’re looking for a good read-aloud for junior high D (A Tale of Two Worlds) is absolutely delightful and you don’t have read any novels by Charles Dickens to enjoy this novel.
Our main character, Dhikilo, is originally from Somaliland. She does not know her birth parents and was adopted by an English couple. Dhikilo has friends, but she has never felt she belonged. It could have been because of the colour of her skin, It could have been because she was adopted, and it could have been because of the uniqueness of her name.
One day all the “ds” begin to disappear from the world. She noticed the missing Ds first from the newspaper her father is reading then next from her mother’s speech. On her way to school, she notices Ds missing from all the signs, from all the books, and from all conversation. During this confusing time of D’s disappearance, Dhikilo’s favourite teacher, Professor Dodderfield, dies and she feels compelled to go to the funeral…..but she discovers this teacher isn’t really dead! Instead, Professor Dodderfield sends her to a magical world Liminus (with his Dog Mrs Robinson who turns into a sphinx at a whim) to stop the disappearance of the Ds.
From here on in Dhikilo and Mrs. Robinson encounter a variety of interesting characters and creatures on their way to confront the Great Gamp who seems to be the one who is stealing all the Ds by using glittering dragonflies.
“one careless insect lost its grip and the shining piece fell to the ground…it was already dissolving into the snow but it stilled glowed. Dhikilo knelt down.. and touched the disintegrating D with her bare fingertips. Immediately, she had a vivid mental picture-like a film projected straight into her brain- of a camel. A camel with one hump. A dromedary. Then the D shriveled into nothing and the vision of the dromedary faded from her imagination” pg 104.
This is a wonderful novel the teach descriptive writing (the Magwitches with long dirty straggly hair the colour of the stuff you take out of the vacuum cleaner” 107-108)
It is also a novel that can be used to discuss the themes of prejudice, strength, family, courage and friendship.
So if you are looking for a fantasy novel to read D (a Tale of Two Worlds) is a short, easily accessible and highly entertaining novel to chose.