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These are the first three stories of the Tollins. Yes, they do have wings, but no, they aren't fairies. Tollins are a lot less fragile than fairies. In fact, the word fragile can't really be used to describe them at all. They are about as fragile as a house brick.
In "How to Blow Up Tollins" a fireworks factory comes to the village of Chorleywood and the Tollins find themselves being used as industrial supplies. Being blasted into the night sky or spun round on a Catherine wheel is nowhere near a much fun as it sounds. It's up to one young Tollin to save his people from becoming an ingredient.
In "Sparkler and the Purple Death" our hero looks execution in the face. Luckily, the executioner's mask in backwards.
Finally, in "Windbags and Dark Tollins" Tollin society faces a threat from the Dorset countryside, which, again, is much more frightening and nail-bitingly dramatic than it actually sounds.
Despite finding time to write historical novels and The Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn Iggulden is in some ways better known as a trainer of Tollins. His Tollin troupe, Small and Mighty, are famous in Tasmania, where they often play to packed houses. Tragically, he lost his two best-known performers earlier this year. "The thing about transporting Tollins in shoe boxes," he says, "the really important thing, is to remember to put the airholes in."
Lizzy Duncan, with her trademark blue glasses, was a founding member of the Tollins in Art program, where inner-city schoolchildren are taken to the countryside by bus and encouraged to paint and observe Tollins in their natural habitats. Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children was her first illustrated book.
Lizzy's abstract paintings of Tollins are much sought after whenever they appear at Sotheby's auction house, and she is very active in promoting Tollin rights and registering them as a protected wetland species—or as a dryland species, if the weather's been good.
Conn and Lizzy's first book together, Tollins: Explosive Tales for Children, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim—and has ensured that no one will ever mistake a Tollin for a fairy again.
“A deliciously subversive vein runs through this story collection-not surprising coming from the coauthor of The Dangerous Book for Boys…Iggulden’s flair for the ironic and absurd, which recalls Lemony Snicket, should tickle both kids and adults.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)