Images © Philip Pullman and illustrator S. Saelig Gallagher.
I suppose this is what they now call a “chapter book” at 97 pages with full page or spot illustrations every few pages. It’s shorter than the books I’m usually attracted to, but I’ll read anything by Pullman. It’s a fine story in a fantasy Southeast Asia setting. Lila’s father is a firework-maker, one of an elite few, and she wants to follow in his trade. She’s already learned a lot, but before she can become a professional she must go on a quest to a distant mountain. Meanwhile, her friend Chulak is the caretaker of a valuable white elephant named Hamlet, and is always getting in and out of trouble. When Lila suddenly takes off alone on her quest, Chulak and Lila go after her with some important information her father neglected to give her, information that could end her life if she doesn’t have it before she gets to the volcanic mountain of the Fire-Fiend.
The interior illustrations are in soft grays, probably pencil, and are just as charming as the color cover. The style reminds me a litte of Maurice Sendak, and that’s a good thing. In all, a fun story and a great read.