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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Night of Wishes (The)
by Michael Ende
Age Range: 9-11
Beelzebub Preposter has six hours to destroy the world before the Devil forecloses on his soul. With the help of his evil aunt, Tyrannia Vampirella, Beelzebub plans to brew up the spell to end all spells and carry out his wicked deed in a most dramatic fashion! Can Mauricio the cat and Jacob the raven save the world in time?
This sharp, witty fantasy tale from the author of The Never Ending Story is well written with a surprising and imaginative plot. Michael Ende has clearly had a lot of fun thinking the story up and gleefully puns his way through the novel in a way that is guaranteed to have his readers laughing as well. The characters are brilliant comic creations and Ende’s inventiveness seems tireless, a particular favourite sketch was the contents of Beelzebub’s laboratory coming to life by accident. The detail Ende puts into the sketch and the hilarious image it conjures up is spellbinding! The animals, Mauricio and Jacob, are also really good fun and are a pleasure to read about because they are unlikely heroes. The lazy little cat and the complaining raven are perfectly ordinary but find it within themselves to team up and save the world.
It is important to remember amidst the humour of this novel that Ende is also a clever, philosophical writer. Whilst Beelzebub is mostly a funny evil character, some of the things he does are actually quite dark and cruel and the novel examines greed, cruelty and selfishness and the effect they have on our world, although Ende does not do this overtly. Ende does have a light touch, but the story is complex as well as being funny and engaging. This is definitely a book for children who enjoy fantasy and can see that some of the humour in the novel is quite dark and comes occasionally at the expense of the normal world.
Abby Phillips (2012)