Ste­j­jer ma jitwemm­nux mill-klassi ta’ Miss Am­brożja Pulis Kif­tara­nipenġini

Malta Independent - - BOOKS -

Au­thor: Au­drey Frig­gieri Pub­lisher: Mer­lin Pub­lish­ers Year: 2013 Ex­tent: 128

Pic­ture three 10-year-old stu­dents: Odette who is for­ever eaves­drop­ping con­ver­sa­tions and re­peat­ing gos­sip; Massimo who par­rots away any­thing that he is told and em­bel­lishes them with colour and mis­chievous Owen who day­dreams of be­com­ing a top foot­baller.

The three of them are all Year Six stu­dents of Miss Am­brożja – the quirky, sparkly teacher with seem­ingly spe­cial pow­ers. Indeed, Miss Am­brożja is no or­di­nary teacher. She seems to have mag­i­cal pow­ers and is ca­pa­ble of trans­port­ing the chil­dren to dif­fer­ent re­al­i­ties to teach chil­dren life lessons.

Ste­j­jer ma jitwemm­nux mil­lk­lassi ta’ Miss Am­brożja Pulis Kif­tara­nipenġini, writ­ten by Au­drey Frig­gieri and aimed at chil­dren aged be­tween eight and 11, is the se­quel to last year’s sur­prise hit Avven­turi mill-klassi ta’ Miss Am­brożja Pulis Kif­tara­nipenġini.

Once again, Miss Am­brożja gives her stu­dents a task to solve. This time it is in the form of a chal­lenge: a king in a far­away land de­cides that on his birth­day he wanted to give his slaves the chance to ob­tain their free­dom. But to do so they must pass a test.

“Chil­dren, you will be the king’s slaves for a lit­tle while ... and you only have one chance,” tells them Miss Am­brożja. The stu­dents get all excited: what, how, why, where, when?!

Sud­denly – mag­i­cally – Odette, Massimo and Owen find them­selves, sep­a­rately, in front of the king. They all were set for the chal­lenge. Will they make it? Do they earn their free­dom? What skills do they need to sur­vive?

Au­drey Frig­gieri was pre­vi­ously a teacher of Ed­ward De­bono’s Think­ing Skills, and feels that her writ­ing may have been in­flu­enced by the think­ing method as she was craft­ing the sto­ries. In fact in the first book, Avven­turi mill-klassi ta’ Miss Am­brożja Pulis Kif­tara­nipenġini, thanks to stu­dents Paskal, Furtu, Larissa and Egon, read­ers are able to ap­pre­ci­ate how op­ti­misim helps to turn round dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions.

“My aim has been to tell a good story in an en­ter­tain­ing way and one which sends an im­por­tant mes­sage to the reader in the process. I’m usu­ally in­spired by events that hap­pen in real life and then I em­bed my thoughts in a cre­ative, colour­ful story,” she said.

As with Frig­gieri’s first novel, Ste­j­jer ma jitwemm­nux is il­lus­trated by Span­ish artist José Luís Ocaña – whose soft but witty pen­cil-and­wa­ter­colour draw­ings cap­ture the mood and spirit aptly. For inspiration, Ocaña goes down the nos­tal­gic route back to his child­hood. “I go with the flow and just imag­ine what kind of char­ac­ters and scenes I would have liked to see as a child while read­ing the story. This is very im­por­tant to me as it helps me to get into a fan­tasy world, where ev­ery­thing can hap­pen.”

Ocaña is nowa­days an es­tab­lished artist with pub­lished works in many coun­tries, but he was dis­cov­ered by Mer­lin who had com­mis­sioned him his first ever book il­lus­tra­tion with the first Miss Am­brożja novel.

‘Ste­j­jer ma jitwemm­nux mil­lk­lassi ta’ Miss Am­brożja Pulis Kif­tara­nipenġini’ can be pur­chased from all lead­ing book­shops or di­rectly on­line from http://www.mer­lin­pub­lish­ers.com

Au­thor: John A. Bonello Pub­lisher: Mer­lin Pub­lish­ers Year: 2015 Ex­tent: 176

Irvin’s favourite packet of snacks, Spintzies, is the tar­get of a band of bur­glars. They break into su­per­mar­kets, clev­erly black­en­ing se­cu­rity cam­eras, leave their mark, but never steal any­thing. Oddly, in each and ev­ery shop bro­ken into, it’s only the boxes of the cheesy, crispy Spintzies which have been moved around.

Luck­ily 19-year-old Irvin is a de­tec­tive – well not ex­actly, he is study­ing to get his pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor war­rant and op­er­ates from a makeshift of­fice at his par­ents’ garage. Ea­ger to sharpen his sleuthing skills, he is fast on the trail of Spintzies clues, to­gether with the help of his cousins Luca and Laura.

Irvin Vella: Il-Kaz tas-Serqiet Strambi is the se­quel to Irvin Vella Il-Każ Man­d­uca – the first de­tec­tive in chil­dren’s fic­tion to hit the Mal­tese book­shelves. Writ­ten by John A. Bonello and pub­lished by Mer­lin Pub­lish­ers, the novel is per­fect for chil­dren aged nine up­wards.

“There is some­thing that is to­tally unique to Irvin: his Mal­tese iden­tity, his love for food, his family val­ues, the way he brain­storms ideas,” Mr Bonello said.

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