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The firework-maker's daughter



1st American ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
97 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
In a country far to the east, Chulak and his talking white elephant Hamlet help Lila seek the Royal Sulphur from the sacred volcano so that she can become a master maker of fireworks like her father.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.3 2 23667.
Added Author:


Call Number

On Order



Lila knows everything about making fireworks, but she learns that to be a true firework-maker, one must face the Fire-Fiend of Mount Merapi. After she sets off, her friend Chulak discovers another halfo of the secret, and without it, Lila will perish.

Author Notes

Philip Pullman was born in Norwich on October 19, 1946. He graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English. He taught at various Oxford middle schools and at Westminster College for eight years. He is the author of many acclaimed novels, plays, and picture books for readers of all ages. His first book, Count Karlstein, was published in 1982. His other books include: The Firework-Maker's Daughter; I Was a Rat!; Clockwork or All Wound Up; and The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. He is also the author of the Sally Lockhart series and the His Dark Materials Trilogy. He is the author of The Book of Dust, volume 1. He has received numerous awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Fiction Award for Northern Lights (The Golden Compass), the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for The Amber Spyglass, the Eleanor Farjeon Award for children's literature in 2002, and the Astrid Lindgren Award in 2005.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

"This comical adventure about a girl who longs to follow in her father's footsteps crackles with Pullman's usual flair," said PW. Ages 8-12. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Lila has one ambition: to be a master firework-maker like her father. Sent to distant and dangerous lands to gather rare ingredients, the plucky heroine is helped on her journey by her friend Chulak and his white elephant. Most amusing is a comic troupe of losers--sometimes pirates, sometimes restaurateurs, always changing but always failing--that she meets again and again. From HORN BOOK Spring 2000, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Pullman (Clockwork, 1998, etc.) has created a strong-willed heroine who will risk her life in order to experience and become transformed by the world. Bent on becoming a firework-maker like her father, young and determined Lila travels to Mount Merapi to obtain Royal Sulphur from Razvani the Fire-fiend. She arrives at Mount Merapi without the three gifts required as exchange for the sulphur and without the magic water that will protect her from the flames; Lila's hopes of appeasing Razvani seem impossible until Hamlet, the King's elephant, and Chaluk, his keeper, arrive with the magic water. Entering the flames, Lila learns that the three gifts'talent, courage and luck'were within her all the time. Falsely imprisoned for stealing Hamlet, Lila's father relies upon her to help prepare a firework display that will earn his release. Called the Foaming Moss, its spectacular presentation leaves the King, his subjects, and the other firework-makers in awe. Characteristically, Pullman builds anticipation to a breathtaking conclusion, while Gallagher's distinctive black-and-white illustrations lead readers on a fantastical journey fraught with danger and a dream realized. (Fiction. 8-12)

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6. In an unspecified Asian setting "a thousand miles ago," Lila grows up with her father and learns to love his trade, firework-making. Confused and dismayed when she hears him despair that he will never find her a husband, Lila undertakes a quest to obtain royal sulphur, the magical ingredient that will make her a true fireworks artist. Along the way she submits to kidnapping by crew of bungling buccaneers, frightens off an attacking tiger, and boldly faces Razvani the Fire-Fiend. Aided by her friends, Hamlet the white elephant and Chulak his caretaker, Lila triumphs. She returns home to help her father escape a death sentence imposed by the king. Reminiscent in spirit of Lloyd Alexander's tales with their strong, clever heroines, this story is abundantly good natured and rich with humorous scenes and philosophical underpinings. Pullman portrays his main characters deftly, sets them in a colorful, convincing world, and brings the story to a memorable climax in a fireworks competition of grand proportions. Black-and-white, shaded pencil drawings will illustrate the text, though the finished art was not available for review. A dramatic tale for reading aloud or reading alone. --Carolyn Phelan

Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-A story set "A thousand miles ago" and very far away. Having grown up amid the clutter and creations in her firework-maker father's studio, Lila wants only to follow in his footsteps, but Lalchand thinks more of finding a husband for his daughter. Since he won't see things her way, Lila enlists the aid of her friend Chulak, keeper of the king's (talking) white elephant Hamlet, to help her find out what she needs to complete her apprenticeship and become a master firework-maker. Chulak learns that the final test is to obtain the royal sulfur from the Grotto of Razvani the Fire-Fiend, and Lila runs away to do this, before Chulak finds out that it takes more than determination to accomplish this quest. Now Lila's life is in danger, from more than the bumbling pirates who kidnap her along the way, and it is up to Chulak and Hamlet to find her before it is too late. Stately but expressive graphite drawings open each chapter and, along with decorated title and half-title pages, add to the expanded folktale feel of this story. This title is similar in length and probable audience to Pullman's Clockwork (Scholastic, 1998); however, where that book used horror and suspense to rivet readers to the page, this one will be remembered for its broad humor and gentle moral featuring a determined girl who reaches her goals through hard work, courage, and perseverance. Young readers will see, hear, smell, and be dazzled by the fireworks that burst forth, as Lila earns her heart's desire.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.