Jessica Jones and the Gates of Penseron

A Testimonial by Marg Gilks, Editor

When I finished The Gates of Penseron I wanted to read again all the books I loved best as a child; I wanted to experience more of the special magic that The Gates of Penseron rekindled for me. Today's young readers would likely put The Gates of Penseron on their best-loved books list; it's a fun, imaginative romp through historical settings accessed via a magical - or is it extraterrestial? - world populated by an eclectic mix of "Penserians," the appealing and often amusing characters who "fell in" at one point in time or another and decided to stay. Young readers will identify with the concerns and pleasures of the two young protagonists, Jessica and her brother Jacob, and happily immerse themselves in Penseron, the result of some thorough world-building by author Graham Clews. From the moment the chameleon-like Roodi Roodemit appeared on Jessica's doorstep and left oh-so mysteriously in "A black limousine a block long [that] . . . purred off down the street" until it ended with the subtle message of empowerment demonstrated by Jessica and Jacob throughout the book ("If you try hard enough, you can make things happen."), I sank gladly into this solidly written story.

The Gates of Penseron would do well in the ranks of children's fantasy fiction, a genre made so popular with young readers by the Harry Potter books and the film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' classic Chronicles of Narnia books. The Gates of Penseron offers a fresh take on the conventional ideas of magic, giving it a sensible grounding without stripping away the wonder. And while, like the protagonists in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or Alice in Wonderland, Jessica and Jacob tumble into a fantasic world beyond their own, remote controls and computer games establish The Gates of Penseron as a contemporary story, one where much of the adventure happens in our very own past. The Gates of Penseron is time travel with a unique twist, and I highly recommend it.

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