Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief by Alex Milway

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Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief by Alex Milway

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Category: Emerging Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The second book in this series still shows some of the warmth and bizarre nature of the forthright pig and his hamster friend's first outing.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 72 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 9781406346039

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Problems are afoot in Tuptown, leading up the annual Butterfly Ball – bit by bit the whole thing is being stolen. Harold has made a special statue for the occasion, but has awoken to find it missing, the berries for the catering have vanished – and someone's even run off with the butterflies. It's up to our heroes Harold (the hamster) and Pigsticks (the, er, pig) to don their stereotypical detective outfits and save the day.

This short adventure finds the series more or less still in fine fettle. It's quite a different beast from the first one, however, but the verve on display suggests that if it goes any further we can expect all kind of narratives in future, not just the journey/quest of last time and the crime story we have here. The characters feel slightly different together, as well – Pigsticks is still a big ego on short legs, but there is a little less of an 'aww' feel about Harold – he's just company here, and not the timid and reluctant adventurer of old.

Some of that is down to the fact that not every moment of the story is thoroughly conveyed by the plot, so that when the solution is revealed we can't be particularly sure which hero had worked it out (even if Pigsticks claims all the plaudits). Elsewhere the details are given by the illustrations, which are commendable for accompanying and paralleling the plot, and not just repeating it in visual form. That and the throwaway joke for the adult sharing this book with a passing young child show some of the intelligence behind proceedings.

It's not perfect – as I say, I would have liked clarity that perhaps Harold was the brains behind things, or had been vital in finding the criminal, some other moments similarly feel cropped back to reduce the word count for the very young audience intended for it, and Harold felt a little underwritten. But there is still a lot to like – the slightly absurdist feel everything in this world appears to have, the fact that all the clues are there if one is intelligent enough to pick them all up, and of course there's Bobbins – the angriest and most grumpy mouse in fiction. It is brisk enough to never outstay its welcome, too, meaning further books in this series would be anticipated with pleasure.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Give a couple of years, and the same readers will be finding pleasures in the slightly oddball Mousehunter trilogy by the same author. Before then they will love Wolfman by Michael Rosen and Chris Mould.

Buy Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief by Alex Milway at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief by Alex Milway at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief by Alex Milway at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pigsticks and Harold and the Tuptown Thief by Alex Milway at Amazon.com.

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