I have been getting glimpses of Oliver and the Seawigs, by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre since March of 2013 when they were at the Bologna Children's Book Fair promoting this fantastic book with and amazing array of seawigs, costumes and accoutrements. I've included a few images of the great getups that Reeve and McIntyre don for events, but be sure to check out Sarah's blog entries for more pictures. Oliver and the Seawigs was released in the UK in September of 2013 and is JUST being released in the US and I am SO happy to finally have it in my hands!
The sole blurb on the back of Oliver and the Seawigs comes from Chris Riddell who says, "A delightfully told, beautiful tale . . . this is my kind of book!" As a huge fan of Riddell's work, especially Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, which Oliver and the Seawigs calls to mind, this is my kind of book, too! Oliver and the Seawigs is rich with illustrations and imagination, an adventurous, fanciful tale that is hard to put down. Reeve and McIntyre are a perfect team, and I hope they have many more books planned together, especially more Not-So-Impossible Tales, of which Oliver and the Seawigs is the first - a preview of the next book can be seen at the end of this review . . .
When we first meet ten-year-old Oliver Crisp, he is happy to finally be rolling home in the explorermobile toward Deepwater Bay where his parents plan to settle down after discovering all the secret, mysterious and lost places in the world.
However, Oliver's happiness is very short lived when, while he unpacks and arranges his room, his parents take the inflatable dinghy off to explore the islands off the coast of their home and do not return by sunset.
Oliver sets off after them and quickly meets up with a motley crew of marine creatures. There is Mr. Culpeper, the Wandering Albatross, and Iris, the near-sighted mermaid who bumps into Cliff. Cliff is the name that Oliver gives to the island that he lands on while looking for his parents, an island that promptly begins jetting across the waves. Cliff is one of the Rambling Isles and he is headed toward the Hallowed Shallows for the Night of the Seawigs, which only happens every seven years. This is the evening when all of the Rambling Isles convene to have their seawigs judged. A seawig consists of all forms of sea detritus that they can coax onto their shores and up onto their peaks. Cliff, sadly, does not have a crinkly coast line to attract decorations. In the hopes of finding his parents, who, most likely are on another Rambling Isle headed to the big event, Oliver decides to help him create a fantastic seawig, with Iris leading them to a sunken submarine, the Water Mole.
However, Stacey de Lacey ("Stacey is one of those names that can be for a boy or a girl!") wants the Water Mole for the Thurlstone, a Rambling Isle he is grooming for the contest, sure that when he wins and becomes the Chief Island, Stacey will usurp his power. Stacey also happens to have Mr. and Mrs. Crisp imprisoned in dangling glass globes and an small army of sea monkeys, my newest favorite imaginary creature in a kid's book! Sea monkeys burst forth from the "green bulbs at the end of a sea whip" and have webbed hands and feet, greasy green fur and an unwavering sense of loyalty.
There is so much more packed into the brilliantly illustrated pages of Oliver and the Seawigs, especially the mermaids. There are never enough mermaids in books and Reeve and McIntyre have created a fine family of them here. The next book in the Not-So-Impossible Tales has a whole new cast of characters I can't wait to meet, but I wouldn't mind learning a little more about the Crisps, Cliff and Iris...
Here are some pictures of Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre from Oliver and the Seawigs events!
Coming (to the UK) September, 2014!
Books by Philip Reeve with links to my reviews. Reeve has written many, many more amazing books - please visit his website to learn more!