Arthur and the Invisibles: 07/16/13
Arthur and the Invisibles by Luc Besson is an audio book comprising Arthur and the Minimoys and Arthur and the Forbidden City. Frankly I can't imagine reading these as separate books as the break between the two seems arbitrary. Together the two halves tell one complete story — an adventure story about a ten year old boy trying to save his grandmother's farm and a 1000 year old princess trying to save the kingdom.
Arthur is sent to his grandmother's home to celebrate his tenth birthday. His parents, though, won't be there as they are in the city looking for work. It's a tough time economically and everyone is suffering. His grandmother, meanwhile, is struggling to keep the house from foreclosure by a greedy land developer.
The grandmother, though, has the money — in the form of a cache of rubies brought back from Africa, and buried somewhere in the garden. Her husband couldn't remember where he had hid them, and now he's gone. The tale of the rubies is tied up with a tale of warriors who are for lack of a better description, like magical Maasai. At their side, they have a companion race (species?) of warriors, called the Minimoy. It is the Minimoy who know where the rubies are hidden.
Through that delightful magical logic of children's fantasy, Arthur finds a way to enlist their help. He comes though at a moment of crisis — they are under attack by M the cursed. And here is where things get interesting.
In the book(s), Besson takes his time recasting the grandmother's garden as a fantasy world with a rich, vibrant culture — very different than Arthur's. Through the world building, the characters come to life and their actions are explained — including the villain's (something often over looked in children's fantasy).