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REVIEW: Zoom Trilogy by Tim Wynne-Jones

Dear Mr. Wynn-Jones,

The Zoom TrilogyYears ago, before I was on the internet or associated the word amazon with anything other than ancient female warriors, I used to get a book catalogue called “A Common Reader.” It was an eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction with enticing descriptions which several times coaxed me into buying many books. The one section I always turned to first was the children’s books. I will confess to being a children’s book junkie with a collection of them all for myself. Alas, this catalogue is long gone, a victim of….who knows. But three of the books they urged me to buy, and which I did buy, are by you. They are the trilogy “Zoom at Sea,” “Zoom Away,” and “Zoom Upstream.”

I love Zoom. He’s such a polite, well mannered cat who loves the water. “Not to drink – he liked cream to drink – Zoom loved water to play with.” When he finds a diary written by his seafaring Uncle Roy and addressed to him, he sets out and discovers a new friend named Maria who lives in a magical house and with whom he shares three adventures. In the first, he gets to enjoy a day at sea after Maria turns her vast kitchen into the ocean. But when he misses meeting his Uncle, Maria invites him back whenever he wants.

“You mean I can come back?”
“Of course,” said Maria. “When Roy returns. And he always does.”
“Then so will I!” said Zoom.
“I’m sure you will,” said Maria.
And so he did.
But that’s another tale.

The second adventure sees them off to the North Pole where Zoom ties on his skates and is watched by gulls, grebes and seals as he skates round and round. But when he spies his Uncle’s vessel “The Catship” caught in the ice, his Uncle has already “boarded a passing iceberg and are headed south.” Zoom puts a captain’s whistle around his neck then he and Maria head home where they settle in front of a fire where Zoom dreams of traveling with Maria and Uncle Roy to somewhere warm.

Where, he wondered. And when would he see the brave captain?
He closed his eyes.
He hoped it would not be too long.

In the last adventure, Zoom is helping Maria tend her garden when the phone rings and Maria goes to answer it. Zoom stretches out for a nap. When he wakes up he discovers her note. “It’s the captain. Had to go. No time to lose!” Following after her, he discovers a passage way behind some books on a shelf which leads to an Egyptian tomb. Here he saves Maria who’s been wrapped as a mummy then together they track his Uncle to “The Catship.” Here he finally meets his Uncle, “a large yellow tomcat in a captain’s hat.”

“Welcome aboard,” he said. “And just in time for a bowl of grog.”
Zoom couldn’t speak for smiling.
“We’ve got quite a trip ahead of us,” said Roy.
“Where to?” asked Zoom.
“Upstream,” said Captain Roy. “To search for the source of the Nile. Are you game, my small friend?”
“Yes,” said Zoom.
“Good,” said Maria.
“Then it’s as good as done!” said the captain.
And they all sailed off into the gentle Egyptian night.

The illustrations by Eric Beddows are delightful, full of life and the details of Zoom’s adventures. I especially love the endpages of “Zoom Upstream” which look like the walls of an Egyptian cat tomb. The level of your writing is perfectly set for younger audiences and beginning readers. The adventures are fun without being scary and just right to lure people into their own fantasies and wondering of what’s behind doors and books and inside nooks and crannies. I will reluctantly admit that the last book falls a bit short of the first two in that there are aspects of the story left unexplained while the ending led me to believe that there would be a further book to tie up the adventures.

Zoom is sweet in his cat’s curiosity to know the sea, the North Pole and what’s behind the stone sentinel cats in the “room aglow with torches” where “the walls were crawling with pictures, and all the pictures were of cats.” He’s full of wonder at what he sees and filled with a spirit of adventure to discover more. I think he’s a marvelous guide to lead young minds into creating their own magical worlds and I’m glad to see that he’s still in print in single editions or the new trilogy from Groundwood Books. Go Zoom!

~Jayne

Zoom Trilogy at Amazon | Used at BN

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

14 Comments

  1. Darlynne
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 07:54:37

    (A moment of silence for “A Common Reader”)

    What wonderfully charming books, Jayne. I also love children’s and YA books and am always looking for them for my nieces.

    Slightly OT, but do you remember when book catalogs came regularly in the mail? I’d get them from England and throughout the US, mostly for mystery novels. Each one was a reading experience in itself.

  2. Jayne
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 08:23:56

    @Darlynne: Absolutely I remember! I can trace my return to romance books directly to one that used to be called “Manderlay” and which featured editors’ picks. It also showed me that there were more subgenres of romance books than English set historicals. Imagine! Westerns and TT and contemporaries…a whole new world to me then.

  3. cate
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 06:22:23

    Right then, off to Amazon to order these for my godson. BUT, if you’ve read these, then, you HAVE to read/review Graeme Oakley’s Church Mice stories(if you haven’t read them you’re in for the most delightful treat ever !)

  4. J L
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 07:33:12

    I grew up in a small town in Iowa and my mother was on the library board. The board members split up the tasks of reviewing catalogs and deciding what books they should buy. My mom was in charge of mysteries and young adult.

    She and I would pore over the catalogs (The Common Reader was one, I believe) and debate the merits of different books. When the books came, she and I would read them before they went ‘public’. I grew up with a steady diet of John Creasy, Ngaio Marsh, Erle Stanley Gardner, Rex Stout, and others. I don’t remember as many YA authors, but I do remember Pinky Pye and a few other titles.

  5. Jayne
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 07:41:32

    @cate: Not only have I not read them but up until now, I’d never heard of them. I obviously need to change that! How many books are there in the series as it looks like it’s been in the works for a long time now?

  6. Jayne
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 07:44:42

    @J L: This, pouring over catalogs to order books, sounds divine. A library is one of my favorite places in the world. All those books! All the potential for enjoyable new favorites!

  7. J L
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 08:16:26

    @Jayne: It truly was a charmed childhood. A friend says I led a Beaver Cleaver existence and he was right. Even going back now for visits as I do, I’m charmed all over again. Our library was a Carnegie library, one of the small ‘four-square’ ones in the heart of town, and we would go there on our bikes at least once or twice a week. And now I stop there once a month or so when I visit Mom and get books for her.

    And yes, it was so fabulous to read those catalogs and visit old friends (Leslie Charteris, John Creasey, etc.) and make new ones. Catalogs were such a magical way to anticipate what was possible and what was coming!

  8. MaryK
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 12:23:55

    I’ve been known to come away from library sales with a few children’s books :) , usually old ones with cool illustrations. These look really nice.

    I wonder if he’s related to Diana Wynne Jones.

  9. cate
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 17:57:11

    @Jayne:
    There are twelve books in total. Two -The Church Mouse, & The Church Mice Adrift have just been reissued by Templar publishing.It was one of the great joys of my godmotherhood to buy these lovely books for my lot at every opportunity when they were small. Arthur & Humphrey (mice)
    rock, & Sampson(cat) is so laid back he’s horizontal. The illustrations are magnificent, chock full of bits for the kids & the adults.
    @Mary K . I don’t think so,like the saddo I am, I had a peek at his web site.
    No mention of the great DWJ, & he’s a Canadian

  10. Jayne
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 07:05:10

    @cate: Can you start anywhere in the series?

  11. cate
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:20:54

    @Jayne:
    Start with the Church Mouse. This tells how Sampson decided not to eat other living beings,& how Arthur (who got rather lonely – even with Sampson around)
    did a deal with the Vicar,to allow the Wortlethorpe mice to live in St Johns Church.

  12. cate
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:39:04

    @Jayne:
    And I’m an utter plank on occasion …it’s
    Graham Oakley….My spellings naff too !

  13. Hazel Gillingwater
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 14:33:10

    Tim Wynne Jones went to Canada as a baby but was born in the north of England possibly The Wirral where his grandparents lived. He had 3 older sisters Jennifer, Wendy, and Diane and a younger sister called Bryony, there may have been another sibling. I know because he is my cousin and I met him when he was a baby just before the family went to Canada.
    His Father wanted my Father to go with them. I was only a little girl but remember the day well.

  14. Blythe
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 11:43:45

    I only just found this sweet review of the Zoom books. You impress me as a reader who deeply understands what romance means.

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