Perijee & Me by Ross Montgomery
|Perijee & Me by Ross Montgomery|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Z J Cookson|
|Summary: A heart-warming tale of family and friendship – ET meets Independence Day for kids. Equally entertaining and exciting, this is a must-read for anyone from 8 to adult.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: March 2016|
|Publisher: Faber & Faber|
|External links: Author's website|
Forced to live on Middle Island with just her parents for company, Caitlin is lonely. The closest she's got to a friend is the grumpy fisherman, Frank, who takes her to school each day in his boat. But everything changes when Catlin finds a wriggling prawn on the beach and decides to keep it as a pet. Only it's not a prawn. It's soon the size and shape of a frog. By the next day it's the size and shape of a person and it keeps growing. And growing. What is it? Caitlin doesn't care – he's the friend she's always wanted.
Caitlin names her new friend Perijee and takes huge pleasure teaching him to talk and how to act. She quickly realises he must've appeared during the meteor shower that everyone's been taking about and his strange behaviour confirms his alien ancestry. That just makes things even more perfect – her dad is a famous astrobiologist. She can't wait for him to return from his latest book tour so she can introduce him to Perijee. Unfortunately things don't exactly go to plan.
It's rare in a review to devote so many words to explaining the premise and plot of a book but two paragraphs were necessary to even begin to summarise Perijee & Me and, then, I have only touched on the subject matter and underlying themes. For a slim book it certainly packs in a lot of story, from the amusing set up when we meet Perijee and he begins to explore life on Earth to dramatic action as the authorities intervene to apprehend the alien.
Despite these apparent contrasts, the book is totally consistent. Told in an engaging first person narrative from Caitlin's viewpoint we are immediately drawn into her world. Her strong voice and matter of fact explanations mean, as a reader, we are happy to accept the plot as it becomes more and more incredible – from a prawn on the beach to the calamity, destruction and chaos of a full scale alien invasion.
The dialogue is tight and believable and every character is fully three dimensional. The dynamic between Caitlin's parents is particularly clever. We immediately know they have problems but it is only as the story develops that we truly understand their motivations. I half expected to find a happily ever after scenario at the end with estranged parents reuniting: I was, therefore, impressed when the plot took a different turn.
For a story that is about as outlandish as it is possible to be, this book is also very grounded. At its heart it is a story about friendship but there are also themes about family. Author Ross Montgomery is not afraid to shy away from important issues, including how parents can be selfish and let their kids down. Yet, he somehow manages to do this in a story that remains simultaneously heart-warming and uplifting.
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