The Goffins: Lofty and Eave by Jeanne Willis
|The Goffins: Lofty and Eave by Jeanne Willis|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A boy discovers two odd creatures in the attic room next to his, which have things to teach him, if offering not so much in the way of drama. The book is obviously intended to set the scene for others to come in the series.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: January 2009|
|External links: Author's website|
George is feeling more than a little alone when his parents move in to his gran's house so they can care for her. With no-one around to play with at all in the summer holidays, it's actually with a relief he hears noises from next door to his attic room, as he discovers a strange couple of creatures – the Goffins.
If you're going to do the old shtick of creatures in the attic/behind the door/out of a wardrobe, they had better be distinctive. The Goffins are certainly that, mostly due to their speech patterns. They have a way of speaking that's of a very nice character, and although it might skewer the book towards the slightly more clever reader, I'm sure no-one will be be-wilbured for too long.
The book on the whole however is rather awkward to judge, mostly because this is the first in the series. The discovery of Lofty and Eave takes a long time (especially when compared with the rush into the story of, say, Pongdollop and the School Stink by Michael Broad). We learn a lot through the next chapters about the Goffin history and their lifestyle comes across in a lot of detail. This could all have been done a lot worse, but there is a little shortage of action as a result.
The book does still contain mystery, and a huge debating point – does Granny know about the Goffins? – but with only a little chase section or so, the main joy in the book is the difference between the human child George and the Goffin child Eave. This itself results in a huge crash into life lessons and moralising at the end – George can't boil an egg or do the brave things the Goffins have to do to survive. Still, I don't wish to sound too critical – this is nice, and I'm sure a lot less noticeable to the target audience of the 6-10 year olds.
Before that another theme of the book has been revealed. In the way the Goffins live, they have resurrected the history of George's ancestors in a way he has never seen. They are all brave heroes, or WWI amputees, or somesuch. The pleasure of genealogy is an unusual theme for a book ostensibly about Borrower-style critters, but it adds an oomph to the things, in a Why Don't You…? style way – why don't you put this book down and just plain ask your parents where you and they came from?
So on the whole the book has no outstanding delights, but a pleasure running through it that will disguise the paucity of adventure, and raise other activities. As such it's a worry-free read that has distinctive characters in the Goffins, a charmingly old-fashioned moral lesson (or ten), and some bits of comedy, mystery and cliff-hanging drama.
The main thrust and dramatic style of the series to come, however, remains the biggest mystery. If only for that reason, I am very interested in seeing what the future Goffins books will offer us.
We at the Bookbag must thank Walker Books for our review copy.
The next step up to this, in both reading ability and quality, is Granny by Anthony Horowitz.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Goffins: Lofty and Eave by Jeanne Willis at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Goffins: Lofty and Eave by Jeanne Willis at Amazon.com.
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