When Ginny meets a gnome named Digger Dagger in her garden, neither of them are sure where in the world he has come from. There isn’t much time for wondering, however – Ginny’s beloved Pop has gone missing, and not even the police can seem to find him! Luckily for Ginny, Digger Dagger seems to know what they need to do. Together, they must solve three riddles for the Very Bad Very Good Storyteller to figure out where Pop has gone.
In the strange world that Ginny and Digger Dagger journey through to find Pop, everything seems to be back to front. The Fish N Chip shop has been replaced with the Chip N Fish shop. The fun fair in town has become the Unfairground, and the ghost train now has a terrifying twist. As Ginny and Digger Dagger solve their riddles and search for clues in this topsy-turvy world, they are helped (and hindered) by a cast of quirky characters – the Very Good Very Bad Storyteller, a man in a red top hat, Pop’s dog Badger and a girl in a polka dot sweater.
The way that the story combines such imaginative magical themes with settings that are so uniquely New Zealand is exactly what made The Loblolly Boy such a fabulous read. With imaginative characters, fast-paced dialogue and a great deal of lamingtons, Twice Upon a Time is a wonderfully fresh fantasy novel. I think that this book will be hugely popular with children who have a penchant for magic, quests and puzzles. As with all of James Norcliffe’s work, the writing is juicy with clever wordplay; it isn’t dry for a second, and will hook readers of all kinds.
Reviewed by Tierney Reardon
Twice Upon a Time
by James Norcliffe
Published by Puffin