The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton, Illustrated by Tomislav Tomic, Published by Andersen Press, 2011.
A very original and imaginative tale that will have reluctant readers on the edge of their seats! This story has a wee touch of JK Rowling with alchemy and potion brewing worthy of Hermione Grainger, but also a smidgeon of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials type fantasy (Lettie has a touch of Lyra about her, and her friend Noah, has a twig growing from his shoulder which changes appearance based on his mood and situation and the twig could be described as a botanical daemon!) These similarities aside, I thought this was storytelling of the best kind – an original, thought-provoking story no-one had ever told me before, and told in a delightful, engaging and exciting way.
Lettie Peppercorn hasn’t left her house-on-stilts near the wind-swept coast of Albion for over ten years. Her missing mother left a very specific warning on the day she left – stepping outside onto Albion could kill Lettie.
But when a mysterious, frozen man, with icicles in his beard claiming to be an alchemist, arrives at the door with a miraculous invention inside a mahogany suitcase, Lettie’s life is changed forever. Lettie has no choice but to risk the perils lurking in the world and on the ground outside if she wants to see her mother again.
Lettie and her sailor friend Noah are both brave, feisty and resourceful, but have their work cut out trying to get the better of a cast of comical but dangerous enemies. In this story Alchemy equates with magic, and although the strange alchemist is motivated by the lure of gold and revenge, the other alchemical experiments are to do with creation, life and love. The text is broken up with beautiful, expressive pen and ink illustrations by Tomislav Tomic.
About the author and illustrator:
Sam Gayton is a young author and this is his first book. He shares a little about his inspiration and writing process here:
To see some of the gorgeous illustrations by Tomislav Tomic click here:
What do I think about this book?
This was one I couldn’t put down and think there will be a lot of children years 5/6 (plus some advanced readers in year 4…) who will love this. It is a standalone novel but a very satisfying one. I look forward to reading more from this author.