When I am weary of the daily news or non-stop work, I take my comfort with children’s books. My favorite stories involve young heroes and heroines who, using their sharp wits, pure hearts and magic, confront bad-guy adults bent on mayhem. So when, recently, I had completed a large work of my own and wished only for rest and relaxation, I went looking for the perfect children’s book to lie down with. I wanted one with a saucy heroine aged, say, 11 years old, who did not know she was brave but, with the help of magic animals, ancient spells and kindly dragons, would take on the Evil Powers and do so successfully.
At the local library I turned up nothing I hadn’t already read, nor did scouring the bookshelves of neighborhood kids result in any finds. I was just about to re-read Susan Cooper’s wonderful trilogy “The Dark is Rising” when an email arrived from a man in Ireland I had never heard of, introducing himself as the author of “TILLIE GREENWAY and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys”, the first book in a trilogy for young readers, and would I like for him to send me a copy? He had read one of my books about standing stones and thought I might enjoy his book, in which magic and standing stones played an important part.
Would I like it? Did he have any idea just how much I would like it? The magic was already working, and I had not yet even read a page of Essi Tolling’s amazing book, and about his heroine (yes, she is 11 years old when the book starts!) and her half brother Zack who confront evil with the help of kindly dragons and ancient keys and prehistoric sites and wise adults. When it arrived I took to the couch, getting up only for the occasional walk around the block and dinner with my husband, and entered into a world of realism and magic, intertwined. Not only is this book a page-turner, with fast-paced action and danger narrowly averted, with clever schemes and counter schemes and totally lovable children, but it is filled with historical information and the wisdom of a deep thinker who understands that the world is many-layered and that people, both the good ones and the “bad” ones have souls that are redeemable. And that help is available from the earth itself, and that magic is found in the most mundane of situations, if we but know how to look.
I love this book, Book I (The Watchers) of “TILLIE GREENWAY and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys” by Essi Tolling, and wish everybody I knew would read it so that we could talk about it, and that everyone else who loves children’s literature would find it and share it with the children in their lives – not to mention their parents.
Author of VOICES OUT OF STONE: Magic and Mystery in Megalithic Brittany, and most recently SERIOUS FUN: Ingenious Improvisations on Money, Food, Waste, Water and Home.
Causes Carolyn North Supports
Daily Bread Project, which I founded in 1982 - see...