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Michael Madden

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Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle
by Michael Madden   

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Publisher:  Fastprint ISBN-10:  1844268268 Type: 


Copyright:  June 2010 ISBN-13:  9781844268269

This rhyming picture book is filled with colourful illustrations, most of which were drawn by primary school children. It tells the tale of two small boys who set off in search of adventure. They hitch a ride on a turtle and sail for the Port Of Tumbattle (where pirates once fought, and sabres once rattled). On their way they encounter pirates and various strange creatures as they search for lost treasure.

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Ole And Zac And The Port of Tumbattle is a rhyming picture book, and the illustrations (around 150 of them), were created mainly by primary school children.

The book tells the story of two young boys searching for treasure. Zac is impulsive and rather comical, whilst Ole is more sensible and quite clever. A downpour changes the landscape, and they hitch a ride on a turtle, who carries a mouse as his crew. They pick up two other boys and sail on to the Port Of Tumbattle (where pirates once fought, and sabres once rattled).
Once in Tumbattle they take possession of a key from Billy the Bear, learn about Gogarty's gold, and meet Bluebeard Bruce who joins them on their quest.
They head for Barracuda Fold, but on their way they have to evade the pirate, Despicable Dan, as well as solving a riddle set to them by a Rumplefox, who also joins their quest. They find a deserted house that belonged to Gogarty, then they stumble across a secret passage that leads to a secret room where the treasure is found.
They exit from the house into the legendary boneyard of Barracuda Fold, where Despicable Dan once again confronts them. They are then chased by more pirates and eventually escape with the help of Gabi the Dolphin, an old friend of the Rumplefox.
Their journey back home is relatively uneventful, until Zac opens the treasure chest to find that the doubloons inside are made of chocolate, much to his delight.
The project was created to raise funds for the Taxal & Fernilee Primary School PFA charity, and for every copy of the book that is sold a donation will be made to this charity.


Have you heard of Dr Seuss,
Who took some words and cut them loose,
By rhyming them with this and that,
In tales of a Grinch, and a cat in a hat?

Well here's a tale he did not tell,
About two boys you know quite well.
A story that fits right in line,
With riddles and fiddles and all in rhyme.

It tells of adventures, of there and back.
Of heroes and villains, of Ole and Zac.
Of dangers, of treasure, and magical spells,
And it starts at the sound of dingle bells.
For an hour or more they marched along,
Singing aloud their treasure song.
"Come along Ole, come along Zac,
"We're going to bring some treasure back."

Then all at once the sky turned grey.
The sun said "Bye, no more today."
There was a flash, a bang, like a roaring train,
Then drip, drip, dripped some drops of rain.

It rained and it rained and it rained and it rained.
It rained all day, then it rained again.
It rained one, two, then it rained three, four.
It rained five, six, then it rained some more.

It rained six, five, five, six and then
It rained on past the count of ten.
It rained past fifteen, thirty, phew!
And it didn't even stop at forty two.

It rained 'til at least one hundred and twenty,
And the sign in the cloud changed from 'Full' to 'Empty'.
They looked around, surveyed the scene,
Looked at where things should have been.

The grass was gone, the pathways too.
Instead of bushes, seaweed grew.
"We're in a fix, it isn't good,"
Said Ole, "We are in a flood."

"We must go on" said brave young Zac.
"We'll have to swim, we can't turn back."
And then they had a stroke of luck,
Ole pointed. Shouted "Look!"

Professional Reviews

Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle
By Abigail Kemp (Manchester Evening News, July 10th 2010)
What a great way to get kids interested in reading - get them to illustrate a book. That's what happened in Taxal near Whaley Bridge and the result is this; a charming pirate adventure tale, told in easy rhyme in a Dr Seuss 'Cat In The Hat' style.
Last November, Taxal and Fernilee CofE primary school launched a competition to provide illustrations for the book.
Most of the 150 in this colourful book have come from children from Taxal and Chinley primary schools and the fact that school-age children had actually had their drawings published was of particular interest to my eight and six year olds.
And if the illustrations are good, the tale's not a bad one either, telling of two small boys who set off in search of adventure on the high seas by hitching a ride on the back of a turtle. In the notoriously difficult world of children's publishing, this ticks all the boxes and more.
Donations from each sale go to Taxal and Fernilee Primary School and books are available online at

Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle review by Helen at Bookbabblers
This is a book with an interesting history because, after it was written, a competition to provide the illustrations was held in schools in the author’s local area. After the entries had been submitted (by both children and adults) over 100 pictures were selected by the author and his wife for inclusion in the book. The result is a really colourful, cheerful piece of work which I think would be more attractive to children for the fact that other children have made a visible contribution. The book has now been self-published and is being sold to raise funds for the PFA of one of the schools.

The story itself – written in rhyme – is a fantastic, quite dreamlike tale of two boys who go searching for treasure with the help of various new friends they meet along the way, including Henry McGrew the turtle and his “crew” Hercules the mouse, mysterious twins James and Thomas and Wrangleburt the Rumplefox (a mythical creature like a dalmatian with pig’s trotters and long flowing hair!). At first I wondered if it would appeal to a child as young as Erin (4) as, despite its large, picture-book format, the ideas of pirates and danger seemed aimed more towards primary age children of perhaps about 7 or 8. However, she is very keen on rhyming stories so we gave it a try and she did enjoy hearing it, even getting quite excited in places! There are characters and ideas that children will relate to readily, such as Ole being more brave and Zac being rather nervous and hesitant, and lots of mention of food and picnics which I think most children enjoy!

For me there were one or two disappointments: the rhyme and scansion were rather dodgy in places (the author sets the bar rather high for himself at the beginning by referencing Dr Seuss, and doesn’t always live up to the challenge!) although perhaps that’s forgivable when the story is so long and he does manage to maintain the pace and atmosphere throughout. The other issue for me was the repeated use of an apostrophe after the word “its” (Its’ body had spots like a dalmatian dog, / But its’ feet were just trotters, like those on a hog. etc). I think it’s important to proof-read all books for this kind of thing, but with children’s books – and in particular a book such as this which has close associations with a school – it should be of particular concern because children learn so much from what they read and see in books.

It’s quite a long tale and we found that as a bedtime story it took three nights to get through (the final one being a bit longer as we didn’t want to break off again!). I’d advise a bit of advance planning if you are going to break it up, as there are some points which round off a section quite nicely (e.g. everyone going to sleep) but other times a stanza or page ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger (e.g. are there going to be pirates when they get there?!) and it might not be appropriate to stop! Alternatively it might be a fun thing to read all in one go on a rainy afternoon and is sure to spark off ideas for imaginative adventure games afterwards!

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