This book is the winner of the 1954 Newbery medal which, along with Onion John, makes its author one of the few two-time winners of the American Library Associations highest honor for childrens literature. Like many of its fellow medalists, this story is set in a culture that is different from most American readers. This probably has less to do with the hispanic background of its characters and more to do with the culture of shepherds and people who make their living almost entirely from the soil.
It took me a long time to catch on to this series of cult favorites. The first time I was aware of it was when I knew a couple of weird guys in high school who treated these philosophical, sci-fi spoof novels as their religious scriptures. That kind of turned me off. Then I got hold of the books in college and had such a good time reading them, my roommate thought I was weird. I actually fell out of my chair laughing.
This second of the Thursday Next adventures that began with The Eyre Affair is exciting, funny and mentally engaging. A romp in an alternative-1985 England, where there are no airplanes and Germany did not lose in World War II; while on the other hand time travel, undead problems, and resequenced mammoths, dodos and Neanderthals are part of every-day life. Everyone is nuts about literature, a whole category of crimes has grown up around forged Shakespearean plays and, just to make the insanity complete, there are ways of actually getting into a book and (for characters in the books) of going from one book to another–or even into the real world.