Tales Of Ramion by Frank Hinks (book review).

Frank Hinks is a barrister and a dad and it is this latter activity that led him to start writing children’s books during the early 1990s. The ‘Ramion’ stories were born out of the stories he told his young sons and his three boys feature in both these volumes as the primary protagonists. Ramion itself is an imaginary dreamland with its own rules and inhabitants and the link between our world and Ramion is a dream-lord called Snuggles, who takes the form of the family’s real cat.

In ‘The Dream Thief’, the boys need to rescue their mother’s dreams of being an artist. Hinks’ wife is, in fact, an artist, so one must assume some sort of identity between his wife and the character in this book. In any event, the Dream Thief has sucked out her dream and a rather Christ-like figure called the Gardener instructs the boys to recover her dreams, indicating that Snuggle will help them in their quest.

Then again, there’s the ‘Creatures Of The Forest’, in which the boys must escape from a child-eating witch called Griselda. In doing so, they must avoid such perils as vampires that wear evening dress and the Lost Magic Office wherein are found the disappeared objects and people that inept magicians failed to make reappear when required.

If this all sounds a bit twee and self-absorbed, that’s certainly an impression that’s hard to avoid after the first few pages. But it’s worth persisting with the books because they do have a style of their own. The humour is certainly urbane and knowing. Take for example the suggestion that the gates to the Land of Dreams are patterned on the departure and arrival halls of Toronto Airport. Likewise, the Immigration Officers who marshal the assorted dreams, premonitions and nightmares are evidently based on the most serious of civil servants.

Likewise, the colourful artwork may have a naive quality but it does occasionally manage to transcend that and become rather beautiful, albeit in 1960s rock concert poster kind of way. The pantheon of characters are similarly psychedelic and sometimes inspired. One example is Scrooey-Looey, the half-mad rabbit who plays a particularly important role in the ‘Creatures Of The Forest’. It’s hard not to draw parallels between this character and the sort of imagined personas that young children project onto much-loved soft toys.

Print quality is excellent and the books will certainly stand up to frequent re-readings. But will they appeal to every child? Hard to say. There’s surely a niche for the ‘Tales Of Ramion’, and with 18 books in the series so far, if your child enjoys their first taste this particular body of work, there’s plenty more to enjoy in the future. But for others, the ‘Tales Of Ramion’ might be something of an acquired taste.

Neale Monks

May 2019

Tales Of Ramion: The Dream Thief by Frank Hinks.

(pub: Perronet Press, 2019. 80 page hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-90993-802-1).

Tales Of Ramion: Creatures Of The Forest by Frank Hinks.

(pub: Perronet Press, 2018. 80 page hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-90993-814-4.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.