Friday, 23 February 2018

Book Review: Tonk and the Battle of the 200 (Middle Grade Fantasy)

Tonk and the Battle of the 200Tonk and the Battle of the 200 by Jon Mann

Series: The Adventures of Tonk #1
Publisher: Desert’s Memory Publishing
Publication date: 14th January 2018
Pages: 266
Format read: eBook
Source: from publisher


 Tonk isn't your average squirrel. While most squirrels live out their lives in the safety of their home tree, little Tonk is curious. He wonders what is out there beyond the End of Things. What lingers over the horizon? What has he never seen?
One day he hears of a magical flying squirrel whose coat is as white as snow. She is held captive in a place called "The San Diego Zoo", and Tonk knows his time has come.
Leaving his family behind, he sets forth on a dangerous journey to rescue the legendary squirrel with the hope that he, too, can learn the secret of flight. Along the way he makes friends with Bogey, a crusty old jackrabbit: El Curador, a Mexican museum mouse; and Pockets, an alarmingly awkward pelican. Together they forge a trail across a treacherous urban landscape to the mysterious place where the creature has been imprisoned against her will.
Once there, Tonk and his brave friends wage war against the enemies who have imprisoned the white squirrel. In doing so, Tonk becomes much more than the simple creature he is -- he becomes a hero.
After all, who says you have to be big to make a difference?

                                                        My Thoughts 

Tonk and the battle of the 200 is a lively tale of adventure, curiosity and wonder. And a reminder to follow your dreams.

Tonk is not your average American squirrel, content to live their life in one tree never venturing farther than the weather vane on the carriage house, he dreamt of sights and sounds far away. Tonk stared out at the mystery that was the horizon and wondered what he would find at the End of Things.

One fateful day Tonk hears about a place where every animal from every continent is held captive. Inside this place is the white squirrel who can fly. Tonk thinks how wonderful it would be to fly. He could fly to the End of Things. Tonk sets out to find this prison, made by man, and ask the white squirrel to teach him to fly. Along the way he will face many dangers and make new friends. His quest for knowledge turns into a quest for freedom.

Mann has written an extraordinary adventure story with an underlying theme of death. Tonk, the squirrel, sees death around him and also has a scrape with death himself when the neighbourhood cat pounces on him.
”Some hunt, and some are hunted. Some feed, and some are fed upon. This is simply the way it is. The natural way of things.”

On his adventures Tonk meets Bogey, The Jackrabbit, who is a whole lot more worldly wise than little Tonk. Bogey saves Tonk’s life more than once as they encounter the perils of man-made machines, pets and predators.

Mann doesn’t humanise his characters. They are still very animalistic by not understanding how things in the human world work and not being able to read signs even though Bogey thinks he can which gives rise to some very funny animal names and also explains the title of the book.

The story tells the reader how the animals feel. They have a fear and hatred of humans. All humans are evil and everything they do is evil. The zoo is a terrible prison and all the animals are unhappy.
"There is no dignity to be found inside a cage, not for any living creature, including man. But for wild creatures of the earth, captivity means the loss of everything, including self.” “Once brought to that place, animals never see the outside world again. They die there!”

The writing is complex and literary and at times a little macabre.
”The dogs tore into them as if seeking nothing more than bloodshed and carnage.” “The bodies of the dancing *Tethin were flung across the concrete, their blood splattering the grass, the stench of their entrails filling the air.”

Authorial intrusion is used consistently to make the reader feel more connected and quite often gives a humorous aside to a sometimes sombre tale; for instance when the author suggests to the reader to look up a certain word in the dictionary.
A story to stretch the imagination and the vocabulary as well.

I would place this book in the same category as Watership Down – the “Not quite appropriate children’s books.” And as Watership Down was, The Battle for the 200 will be read and remembered by children and adults alike.

Content: animals die in this story
Recommended for 10years + though not for the highly sensitive child.

*Tethin – the name by which the squirrels regard themselves.



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