the new fantasy series by
best-selling author of
Martin Baynton has been writing for children and young adults for over thirty years. His publishers include Walker Books, Harper Collins, Candlewick Press, Penguin and Heinemann. His series, Jane And The Dragon, first published by Walker Books in 1988 has become a modern classic and was developed for TV by Weta Productions and Nelvana in 2006.
Ali is a troubled teenager with a quick wit, a love of science and zero tolerance for bullshit. When she stumbles into Wonderland she refuses to accept it’s real – until it starts killing her. Now Ali must decode riddles buried in the original storybooks if she is to survive Wonderland and defeat the dark forces intent on breaching out.
Considering the love and reverence Martin Baynton has for the original stories, I was not surprised on reading his first novel in the Taking Wonderland series, that it delivered such a sense of joy and wonder. Drawing on the inspiration of Lewis Carroll, Martin has written a masterful narrative that introduces us to a completely new Alice. Smart, complex, and somewhat fragile, she journeys down her own, very personal, ‘rabbit hole’ and what unfolds is utterly mesmerizing as she untangles connections across time and space to confront her demons. Martin has given us a unique Alice, a girl out of place in her own world, yet extraordinarily connected to another. This is a beautiful novel, a spell binding and intimate glimpse through the looking glass.
Richard Taylor. Weta Workshop, Co-founder and Head of Creative.
I didn’t know what to expect from an adult book inspired by Alice in Wonderland. I must say that the author outdid himself with an original storyline. The book begins in a whirlwind manner. Even though I was trying to make sense of what was going on, I was hooked by the time I had finished reading the prologue. The author’s use of language is impressive, I felt all the emotions each character, especially Alice, was feeling intensely. Almost every moment made my heart race, and I could not flip the pages fast enough. I enjoyed the author’s references to science and wordplay. It was the perfect unity of science and art. What is more impressive is that I never felt burdened or impatient with all the action. Martin Baynton effectively sucked me in without even really taking me to Wonderland. This is Book 1 of a series, and with the splendid way it ended, I would love to see more of Wonderland and feisty Alice. If you have any likeness for Alice in Wonderland, you should make room in your heart and library for The Secret of Safe Passage.
Highly recommended. Context is everything and so, in the prologue to the first of this trilogy of young adult novels, Martin Baynton provides the necessary context. Turns out the Alice books were not written by Lewis Carroll at all, but by Alice herself: stories in which are embedded clues that will enable the rescue and repatriation of its characters. Shift to the present day, and we meet 15-year old Ali, great-grandniece to Alice and a troubled young woman who copes with the death of her mother by the regular use of expletives and bouts of violence. The most recent of these episodes sees her suspended from school and sent to relatives living in a manor house on the edge of an English village. It’s there that Ali gets her first intimation that she is being called upon to rescue not only Alice but all those trapped in Wonderland. Ali is a redoubtable character, steeped in science, always spoiling for a fight, but brave and resourceful, too. Even though not all modern-day readers will appreciate the context provided by the Alice books, they’ll love the sparky, sparring dialogue, the rollercoaster action, and the sheer inventiveness of this one, cheering Ali on as the first instalment of the trilogy finishes with her own escape into Wonderland. The cover illustration by the author references the work of John Tenniel, with a delightfully stroppy Ali glaring out at the world and at the reader.
Magpies Magazine, children’s book reviews. Bill Nagelkerke.
Critical reviews of books by Martin Baynton
Quirky and funny, a book that will take its place of the shelf of all-time favorites.
Susan Hill, Sunday Times London.
An enchanting book that deals with the difficult issue of violence. At one level it is a sophisticated discussion about the effects of aggressive behavior, at another it is a tale of courage and conviction that is life affirming and engaging.
Dr Russell Wills, 2014 New Zealand Children’s Commissioner
Jane and the Dragon
The new edition of this beautifully crafted fairy tale reminds us why Jane And The Dragon has become a modern classic. Funny and heart-warming the story still delivers to both head and heart.
The Daily Express. UK
Under The Hill
A delightful, seductive story. Concepts of innocence and exploitation, greed and contentment, flutter before the reader.
Listener Magazine. New Zealand
Fifty The Tractor
One of the year’s best books for children.
Newsweek Magazine. USA