Niamh Sharkey
(Walker Books)

Mavis the cow and Marge the chicken are no regular farmyard animals. They yearn for adventure, for exploration and for the unexpected! So they decide to leave the farm behind and hit the road … on a bicycle. Things don’t go quite to plan with their mode of transport but thankfully they are rescued by a racing-car driver rabbit. Over the hills, through forests, across the sea and up to the moon they go, with the help of the similarly adventure-thirsty friends they meet along the way. But as they reach their ultimate destination, they feel a little tug: home is beckoning and so it is time to make their way back.

This story of a rather unusual road trip is full of fun, and its wacky and comical characters will be a great success with young readers. I loved the idea of animals having itchy feet and wanting to explore the world. The artwork is beautiful, using a lovely soft palette of colours. Niamh Sharkey’s signature style brings vitality and an energetic feel to the story; the characters are literally jumping  off the page, enticing young readers into joining the fun. Happiness and joviality ooze out of the pages of this book. Again here the page design and typography go a long way at creating the right atmosphere; I love the use of the font which looks like an old typewriter and which gives a perfect retro feel, keeping in tone with the title, à la Jack Kerouac … are Mavis and Marge the Beat Generation for farmyard animals?

Amidst all the fun and comical scenes, On the Road with Mavis and Marge also highlights a lovely message about the importance of home and the feeling of belonging somewhere. Home is where the heart is; you can go as far as you want, see all the things that you want to see,  but home will remain in your heart, and eventually you will be drawn back to it. I think that is a lovely message for young children, as we often only realise how important home is once we have flown the nest.
There is no doubt that On the Road with Mavis and Marge will be a hit in households with little people. There are so many discussions to be had around this story: from modes of transport to types of animals, from making new friends to remembering old ones. It has a lot of potential but first and foremost it is simply a beautiful picture book with a great story. What else does one need?

I am really chuffed that Niamh has agreed to take part in my Fabulous Five feature, and her theme and choices are fantastic so make sure to tune in tomorrow to check them out!

Sent for review by publisher.