|Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Milway|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Bordering on too cartoonish, this vivacious voyage is still probably a very good fit for a large audience.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 84||Date: May 2014|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
In a world where explorer's backpacks are able to fit pigs, hamsters, voles and ducks, sits Pigsticks, dreaming of surpassing his forepigs in their adventures. When his itchy feet get the better of him and he finds himself in need of an explorer's assistant, he finds Harold the hamster – well, angry mice don't really cut it. They make an unlikely duo, but when the Battenburg cake is packed the earth is their oyster, and in trying to find the ends of it they make for a most unlikely journey too…
This energetic read for the very young is at an awkward balance as regards target audience. Some pages have a hundred words or more, some three; some require the basics of understanding the flow across the pages of a comic, some are perfectly legible illustrated fiction or captioned pictures. But throughout the vivacity and the clarity of the writing is just spot on, and the reader who can get through a book without more than a question or two, or one who has had a shared experience with this volume a couple of times, will be more than adequately served.
For the actual book-buying adult they will find the ending more than a little too snap, and the narrative balance a little off, but the structure of the story is fine – the unlikely duo face ever more insurmountable difficulties in a nicely routine way – Pigsticks forging ahead, leaving Harold to suffer the consequences in his wake. The young audience will enjoy the divided priorities of the travellers – one to reach the ends of the earth, the other to have the promised cake.
When the story gets to its final act and both priorities take a back step is when you can really see the energy and quick, witty craft in both the writing and the illustrations. The backpack looks more and more ragged around the edges, the framing of the pictures in their perfectly understandable, bold style carry every sense of drama and meaning to the eye, and the enthusiasm of the creator is possibly even greater than that the audience shares with him. It's all quick and cartoonish, silly yet charming, and hopefully part of a series, as it strikes me the young reader's shelves could do with more of those qualities from the friendly paws of this particular duo.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp is for an audience just a year or two older, and is immense fun.
You can read more book reviews or buy Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Milway at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Milway at Amazon.com.
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