Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door by Ross Montgomery
|Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door by Ross Montgomery|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Alex meets friendly dogs, not-so-friendly wolves, daffy scientists and a very odd orchestra as he sets off to discover what lies at the heart of the Forbidden Lands!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 344||Date: August 2013|
|Publisher: Faber and Faber|
2013 Costa Children’s Book Award shortlist
If there's a young reader in your life who loves mystery and adventure stories with a large dollop of the eccentric stirred into the mix, then you could do worse than point them in the direction of this silly (in a good way!) book. What happened to Alex's dad that makes him constantly run away, even when he's promised not to? Why does he think he's not human any more? Why does he keep shouting squiggles? And what really lies at the centre of the mysterious forest on the edge of town?
No one has ever been to the Forbidden Lands except Alex's dad, and he's nuts now, so you can't believe a word he says. Anyone who takes one step across the frontier suffers an extraordinary reaction. And suffer is very much the correct word! However hard people try to resist, their feet suddenly take control and force them to run straight home. Absolutely straight, unable to veer a single inch to the left or the right, and woe betide anyone or anything that gets in their way.
Crazy, huh? And that's before you find out exactly what sort of therapy is considered appropriate for the really naughty children of the town. It involves baboons and French horns, by the way.
This book is a glorious muddle of batty villains, unimaginative or simply useless adults and dogs that are way more sensible than the humans that surround them. Luckily for the cliché count, it also includes a teacher who is kind, determined and fairly intelligent (hurray!) and an ending which avoids being obvious. Instead, it achieves a rich balance between happiness and sadness which will leave the reader chuckling, and also thinking perhaps a bit more deeply about families, ambition and the joy of going home at the end of a long and confusing day.
It's original, it's whimsical, and it's definitely absurd. One might go so far as to say batty, actually. Practically everything that happens is unlikely, incredible or impossible, and some of the best bits are all three. All that makes for a thoroughly satisfying read, to be saved for those rainy afternoons when all you want to do is to be swept away to a different world which is both scary and exciting with a good chance of giggles.
Another loopy book with animals is Casper Candlewacks in the Claws of Crime! by Ivan Brett. Then there's Ratburger by David Walliams, about the battle to ensure a beloved pet doesn't end up as lunch. Gross — but funny.
You can read more book reviews or buy Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door by Ross Montgomery at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door by Ross Montgomery at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.