Friday 6 September 2013

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre

Oliver Crisp was only ten years old, but they had been a busy and exciting ten years, because Oliver’s mother and father were explorers.
They had met on the top of Mount Everest.
(I wish you could see the goat saying ‘Meh!’as the mountaineers fall in love)
They had been married at the Lost Temple of Amon Hotep, and had spent their honeymoon searching for the elephants’ graveyard.
Published by Oxford University Press in September 2013
203 pages in hardback
Coloured cover with grey scale illustrations throughout.
Summary from
Oliver grew up in a family of explorers - but his biggest adventure is about to begin! Along with his new friends, a grumpy old albatross, a short-sighted mermaid and a friendly island called Cliff, Oliver goes off in search of his missing parents. But before he can put his rescue plan into action there's the evil Stacey de Lacey and an army of greasy, green sea monkeys to contend with ...
This illustrated book for children is frankly bonkers. It is stuffed full of enchantingly mad pictures by Sarah McIntyre and equally potty characters by Philip Reeve. Who could fail to love Mr Culpeper the grumpy albatross, Iris, a plump and resourceful mermaid and Cliff, the jolly wading island?
The story follows our brave ten year old hero Oliver searching for his missing explorer parents – and encountering some very strange places and problems along the way. It’s deeply daft – in a good way – and actually has a plot, not just a sequence of funny events. The overall story could suit a very able young reader –whilst there is peril, our hero and his friends overcome it with cleverness and courage. 
The illustrations, like the language, are a source of joy. Both are lively, unpatronising and imaginative. Dare I say it, but I believe some children might enjoy colouring in Sarah’s line-drawings?
I particularly enjoyed the places where the text and the images play with each other; for example, where a scene in darkness is written white on black or the pictures invade the page. Great fun.
There’s plenty for more experienced readers to enjoy and detailed artwork begging to looked at carefully. It would work very well as a book to read aloud and share: I wonder if OUP might consider a ‘Big Book’ for schools?
All-in-all, a splendidly funny book for good readers of seven and over. I would add that it is a good read for girls as Iris is a strong and central character. I do hope Oliver and his friends go onto have further adventures.

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