This trilogy of books by the inimitable Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, master world builders, are among the first reviews I posted when I began this blog in August of 2008. Besides the fact that I adore these books and think of them often, I am thrilled to call them to your attention (again) because these books recently served as a bridge between the chapter books and graphic novels my 8 year old son has been reading and the longer, more complex novel that he is growing into. The fantasy world created in these books is gentle and never threatening or disturbing the way some middle grade fantasy novels can be. This review includes links to the individual reviews of all three of the magnificently illustrated books. If you are luck enough to purchase them in hardcover, the jacket unfolds into a map of each realm!
Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell are the team who created The Edge Chronicles, an amazing series of books for 5th grade RL and up. This team crams their books full of verbal and visual details that crowd the wonderful, wildly imaginative worlds they create. Riddell's intricate illustrations decorate almost every page. There are ingenious, if impossible, inventions, crazy flying contraptions, wild hats and amazing foods - both scrumptious and revolting. As with all children's fantasy, there are mean adults up to no good that our heroes, the kids, must outwit and/or escape from as well as the occasional missing (but soon to be found) parents. The formula is simple, but Stewart and Riddell are so brilliant at what they do that the reader is never bored.
Far-Flung Adventures feature three different main characters, Fergus Crane, Corby Flood and Hugo Pepper. While the books do not have to be read in any order and do not share plot lines, they do share some people and places and it is fun to catch the references and make connections. And, each book ends with an epilogue that is all illustrations and ties up the various character's stories in a very satisfying way. Finally, in each of the Far-Flung Adventures, an imaginary book and sometimes it's author play a prominent part in the story. After the epilogue and the author and illustrator information pages, there is a humorous page of "information" on the author of the book within each book.
As of this writing, these books are only available in hardcover. However, the packaging (there is a map on the inside of each book jacket) and the marvelous illustrations make it well worth the cost.