After many years of exploring the world, Oliver’s parents have decided to settle down in the seaside town of St Porrock’s, much to ten year old Oliver’s delight and relief, as he has grown quite fed up of the explorers’ lifestyle. But even then Oliver’s parents yearn to explore and decide to go visit the islands just off the shore. Oliver declines to join up and busies himself tidying up. But when he looks out again all the islands have disappeared, and his parents with them. Oliver needs to embark on his best adventure yet to rescue his parents; with the help of a grumpy albatross, a short-sighted mermaid and an island with an identity-crisis, he embarks on a journey to the Hallowed Shallows, for the Night of the Seawigs…
What a treat for readers young and not-so-young this fabulous little book is! I make no apologies for my passion of illustrated fiction for young readers and this is an absolute gem. Both Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre have been very successful in their own right, and though their collaboration works perfectly, you can really feel their individual styles shining through, which helps make this book such a success. Reeve’s text is incredibly funny, witty, and accessible which is particularly important for the intended audience. Sarah McIntyre’s zany artwork add the extra layer of wackiness, and her big-eyed characters are always endearing. Her short-sighted mermaid is particularly glorious, and she captures the attitude of the sarcasm-loving seaweed perfectly. The drawings help break up the text, but be aware that there are still big chunks of text so this is definitely best suited for the confident reader. However, Oliver and the Seawigs also makes a perfect read aloud, with laughs aplenty.
Undoubtedly, it is a nutty book, with a crazy story and wacky characters (Sea monkeys! Hairstyling-obsessed islands! Silly-named baddies!), but it includes underlying themes of friendship and standing up to bullies. Sometimes, however, only a real giggle-inducing fantastical adventure will do for a good fix of happy escapism, and this delivers perfectly.
Source: advanced proof from publisher but finished copy my own