REVIEW: The Firework-Maker’s Daughter

My final book for February (yes I know it’s mid March but I am still catching up) was another children’s book.

I’ve been buying up books from charity shops that I loved as a child and have lost along the way. These have included books like The Didakoi, Wind in the Willows, Carrie’s War, The Moomins books and the Narnia series.

I was delighted to find The Firework-Maker’s Daughter a little while ago, which I can remember thoroughly enjoying. Then I noticed it was first published in 1995. I turned 30 at the end of 1995 so I must be remembering enjoying this book when I read it to my daughters. Funny how time just whooshes by sometimes.

Philip Pullman is much better known for his His Dark Material trilogy – none of which I have ever read (there’s three more books added to the ‘must-read’ long list!).

He has quite a pedigree. The Firework-Maker’s Daughter won a Gold Medal Smarties prize, his novel Clockwork won a silver medal, Northern Lights won a Carnegie Medal and was joint winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and The Amber Spyglass was the first children’s book to win the overall Whitbread Award. That’s quite a legacy.

Lalchand is a maker of fireworks and his daughter Lila wants to follow in his footsteps but Lalchand is not keen. He let’s Lila help him with the fireworks and she even begins to invent her own but he will not let her take the next step to become a fully-fledged firework maker herself.

Lila knows she needs to make a pilgrimage to face the terrifying Fire-Fiend so she runs away, accompanied by her friend Chulak who looks after the Emperor’s prized white elephant. The white elephant is called Hamlet and only Lila and Chulak knows that he can talk. Chulak sells advertising on Hamlet, much to the elephant’s disgust.

The book tells the story of the journey Lila, Chulak and Hamlet make to get Lila to the Fire-Fiend and help her become a proper Firework Maker and it culminates with an enormous firework display.

Along the way there are loads of fun characters and the book is just an absolute joy.

I’d say reading it in adulthood was just as enjoyable as reading it as a kid – but apparently I was never a child when I read it so I’ll just say it’s well worth reading whatever age you are.

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