Under 15: The magical flying machine

Under 15: The magical flying machine
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First Published: Sat, Jun 23 2007. 01 40 AM IST

Updated: Sat, Jun 23 2007. 01 40 AM IST
I have never made claim to being an archaeologist. I’m purely a dilettante who loves the challenge of solving a mystery; and there is no greater mystery than a lost shipwreck.” That quote of Clive Cussler describes the man perfectly. The founder of Numa (the National Underwater & Marine Agency), is an adroit thriller writer.
Dirk Pitt’s (Cussler’s hero of many Numa adventures) creator has now written a story for children. The Adventures of Vin Fiz is a magical story with shades of Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The James Bond creator, however, never wrote another children’s book after that. One hopes—after this good first-time effort—Cussler won’t stop.
Runaway trains, an enchanted plane, gold-diggers, a ghost town and ships in trouble are exciting subplots in this adventure that transports the child into a wonderfully imaginative world.
Ever and Irma Nicefolk (those are their names) live on a farm with their son Casey and daughter Lacey, the 10-year-old non-identical twins, and a dog, Floopy. One fine day, a man turns up at their door, offering his services as a daily help. His name is Sucoh Sucop and he proves to be a great help on the farm. The thing that bothers the children is that he disappears into the barn after dinner.
One day, Sucoh Sucop (read backward, his name is Hocus Pocus) leaves, leaving behind a magic mat for the children. Any object placed on the mat is transformed into a lifelike size but—the conditions put forth by Mr Sucop—they must use it only for a good cause. A toy tractor becomes real and Casey and Lacey gift it to their parents for use on the farm.
The excitement starts when Casey makes a toy plane and places it on the mat. As it grows into a real two-seater, the children hop onto it with Floopy and take off. What follows is a rollicking voyage of adventure in the course of which they discover that Vin Fiz—the name of the airplane—has a mind of its own. It is like a flying Herbie that can think and act, too. Along the way, Cussler throws in nuggets such as how steam engines were made.
Cussler’s narrative is simple, yet taut and can hold the attention of children right through—and the basis for this story is rooted in fact. The Wright brothers had a plane named Vin Fiz. Cussler dedicates this book to the memory of Cal Rodgers, who made the first transcontinental flight in 1911 in a plane named Vin Fiz.
The writer is the editor of Heek, a children’s magazine. Write to lounge@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Jun 23 2007. 01 40 AM IST
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