Friday, September 23, 2011

New Release: The Flint Heart

The Flint Heart is a unique release because it's not actually Katherine Paterson (our current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and author of the sob-inducing Bridge to Terabithia) & John Paterson's story. The original author was Eden Phillpotts, an early-20th century writer and poet who loved setting his stories in his home region of Dartmoor and who happened to be friends with Agatha Christie. This is an abridged version of his 1910 story, paired with the fantastic illustrations of John Rocco (illustrator for the Percy Jackson series and some beautiful picture books).

The titular "Flint Heart" is exactly what it sounds like -- a stone talisman that hardens the heart of the wearer. It was created in the Stone Age to help a soft-hearted man become chief of his tribe but, as is usually the case, it held more power than he bargained for and the man became a violent tyrant. The charm was buried with him, only to be dug out of a cairn by a kindly Victorian farmer. Soon after, the farmer, Billy Jago, also becomes an insufferable boor who mistreats his wife, children and neighbors. Billy's children, especially his son Charles, believe that their only chance of receiving help is from the local fairies and it is to them that they turn. And so, we follow the Flint Heart through many sets of hands (and paws) as it creates mischief in Dartmoor.

This was a fabulously Victorian tale. There are moors and fairies and all sorts of wonderful and fantastical details. One might balk a bit at the part where the children must impart their knowledge on another creature and, of course, the boy teaches math and history and the girl teaches needlework and poetry but, again, it's a late Victorian tale! The illustrations really enhance the book and I wish that my review copy had them in color like the gorgeous one here of a belligerent badger --

I would love to see more Victorian tales come back into fashion in such a brilliant way as this. This story was honest and heartwarming and I really just enjoyed reading it. I'm sure that Z will enjoy it as well (he already thumbed through it and was really into it) and it will definitely make a good bedtime story. There is also supposedly a film version in the works, produced by the Paterson's son. And, if you're interested, you can read the original tale online (which from a brief browse also seems utterly charming).

Remembering to have a good Point of View,


  1. hm, this sounds interesting. Thanks for the review!

  2. This does seem right up your alley. And the illustrations look so lush and gorgeous.

  3. Kailana - It skews a bit young but is a great read nevertheless!

    Jenners - It's strange how the right books just come into view. I requested this one without knowing anything about the background of it. It turned out to be just my thing!