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4.6 out of 5 stars
Oliver and the Seawigs
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Got this for my 8 year old nephew, as both the Guardian and Telegraph book reviews quite rightly rate the book 5*. It's quite a zany book compared to Philip Reeve's others for youngsters aged 9+ (e.g. Predator Cities: Mortal Engines and Goblins) and is perhaps aimed at a younger reader being rated age 7+. The book is about a young boy named Oliver who is the son of two famous explorers called the Crisps. After years of exploring with even Oliver being born while they they are out and about, the Crisps decide to settle down with Oliver, now 10 years old, in a proper home of their own. Then his parents suddenly disappear whilst exploring a strange set of islands - and the islands themselves have all disappeared too, well all except one. For these are The Rambling Isles and so Oliver sets off with the island he has befriended, complete with a snooty albatross and a short-sighted mermaid, to find out what has become of his mum and dad.

The book is Philip Reeve's first collaboration with Sarah McIntyre, where 'both of us came up with ideas for the characters and the story, and then Sarah did the drawings, and Philip wrote the words'. There's lots of nice pictures, and although the book itself rambles along a bit occasionally, it's a great fantasy adventure with Sea Monkeys and nasty villains, and it's also quite funny in places as well. My nephew liked the entire off-the-wall book and storyline, and he rates it 5* (it was read to him at bedtime, so he appreciated the detailed illustrations). At www.jabberworks.co.uk there's even a knit & stitch your own Sea Monkey pattern. The book is nicely hardbound with 195 pages with many pen and ink illustrations. Also check out Reeve's No Such Thing As Dragons which seems aimed at a similar age group. Philip Reeve's won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for Predator Cities: A Darkling Plain in 2006, and The Carnegie Medal for Here Lies Arthur in 2007.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Oliver and the Seawigs is a fun, bonkers new children's book by author Philip Reeve and illustrator Sarah McIntyre. This team works particularly well together and I hope there's more books coming in the future - I'm sure younger readers will love this one!

Oliver and the Seawigs is, first and foremost, an adventure story. Oliver's parents go missing on what turns out to be a moving island, so he goes searching for them. On his travels he meets a shortsighted mermaid, a nasty villain type called Stacey de Lacey, an albatross, a little island called Cliff and more sea monkeys than he's ever seen before. As you can imagine, madness ensues!

I enjoyed this book, especially because of all the crazy characters that Oliver meets. I'd happily have a little sea monkey as a pet, and I think it'd be really cool to meet a mermaid and a moving island. Such brilliant imagination and storytelling has gone into this, and it will appeal to many different readers.

My personal favourite part of Oliver and the Seawigs is the illustrations. I don't think I've come across Sarah McIntyre's work before but I'll definitely be keeping an eye on her future work. The style of her illustrations is just lovely and I really enjoyed looking at them all. The sea monkeys and little Oliver are my favourites - so cute!

I think this book is being marketed to readers in the 7+ age range, though that doesn't mean slightly younger readers won't enjoy it too. And I think I'm proof that older readers are also in for a treat - it's worth picking up a copy for the illustrations alone. Fantastic!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My sons are avid readers and I'm constantly on the search for something new and different for them. When I saw this book I had no idea what to expect - what on earth is a Seawig?! - but it looked humorous and so we decided to give it a go.

As it turns out I'm really glad that we did! Both my sons, (aged 7 and 9), totally loved this book. They said that it was quite unlike anything that they'd read before, that it kept them guessing about what was going to happen and that it was a little bit crazy and a lot funny! Doesn't get much better than that does it?! The book is about a 10 year old - Oliver - whose Mum and Dad are explorers but he wishes they were normal, (I'm sure lots of kids can relate to that last bit!). However, one day they need rescuing and Oliver has to use all the explorer training that's in his blood and head off on his own adventure to rescue his parents. On the way he encounters many strange and wonderful creatures and, of course, finds out all about Seawigs.

The imagination of the author is quite something and the illustrations really did add to this book we felt. It was nice to find a funny and entertaining book that didn't feel dumbed down in any way - there are some wonderful phrases in there and the author doesn't shy away from using some more tricky words.

All in all I would highly recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Oliver Crisp is the ten year old son of deeply obsessed explorer parents. When his parents realize that they have explored everything there is to explore they move to a little seaside town to settle down. Upon arrival they spy some new, possibly volcanic, islands in the bay and immediately head out in their inflatable dinghy to explore. When Oliver next looks out at the bay the islands are gone and his parents are gone as well. Oliver resolves to head out to the one remaining little island and do some search and rescue of his own; he isn't going to fall to pieces, because "a Crisp is made of sterner stuff than that". The subsequent adventure, featuring Oliver and his spirited new mermaid partner, is thrilling, manic, suspenseful, a little silly, and enlightening in the finest Boys, (and Girls), Own tradition.

Now, there are lots of post-chapter books out there. Some are "zany". Some are funny in a fart/booger way. Some are funny in a snarky narrative kind of way. There are very serious adventure books and light but informative adventure books. There are lots of problem books, either light-hearted or heavy. But, there aren't very many that pull off what this book pulls off. This is both a fun and a ripping tale.

Oliver Crisp is a reasonably well-developed character. His adventure is fantastical but presented with mostly a straight face. There is no irony or parody or any little jabs taken at the genre. There is a good-natured good humor to the narrative, with maybe an occasional wink at the reader to remind him or her that we're just having fun here. There are many subtle jokes that the reader may get or not, but they're just a bonus.

I like slightly arch, mostly deadpan, narrators who can tell a story while making the reader feel welcome and comfortable. This is not an author's book, it is a kid reader's book. (Lots of writers who are very successful YA authors, as Reeve is, can't make the transition to kid's books; such books require a different approach and skill set. This transition is seamless, and Reeve brings the rigor of a YA fantasy down to kid level without ever being patronizing or condescending.)

But hey, you don't need a dissertation about Reeve. Bottom line - this is a rousing adventure. It is written at a high enough reading level that it is a bit challenging but consequently a bit more rewarding. The illustrations, which grow on you as the story proceeds, add humor and context, and frame and complement the story very well. For me, this is a nice find and it seems it could really serve as a great introduction to action tales for an adventurous early reader.

Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Oliver Crisp lives with his explorer parents and has spent most of his childhood travelling around the world with them. Now, reluctantly, his parents have decided that there is nowhere else they haven't visited and are reluctantly settling down in Deepwater Bay. Oliver is ecstatic about having a bedroom of his own and even going to school for the first time. However. on arrival, his parents eyes light up on seeing some small, unmapped, islands on the bay. Leaving Oliver to unpack they head out in their dingy to explore - by evening, all the islands but one, and his parents, have vanished...

This is a truly imaginative, exciting and funny read for children of approx 7+(although both my nine and six year old read it with great enjoyment). Oliver finds that the islands, known as the Rambling Isles, travel through the sea and, at the moment, are heading for the Night of the Shallows. So, prepare yourself for an island called Cliff (and the Shallows - I had to explain that joke!), a wig wearing competition, a grumpy albatross called Mr Culpeper, a delightful short sighted mermaid called Iris and a wonderful baddie, Stacey de Lacey, and his army of sea monkeys. The illustrations bring the story to life and I adored the Sarcastic Sea and the Singing Rocks. Wonderful to read aloud, or alone, this is a fantastic book which will appeal to both boys and girls - and their parents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2014
I so enjoyed this madcap romp through the oceans, and so will the target audience of 7+. Really, I’m not convinced there’s an upper age limit on this kind of fun.

The book represents a brilliant combination of text and image, being beautifully illustrated throughout. Philip Reeve’s delightfully zany creations are brought to life through Sarah McIntyre’s energetic and witty drawings.

The characters are deliciously quirky, with the mythical and magical elements showing an inventiveness worthy of Eva Ibbotson. There is an anarchic feel to this book, which is perhaps some of the reason it put me in mind of her work. The plot is equally strange and wonderful, featuring the most bizarre competition I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about, islands that wander around the seas, mermaids, sea monkeys and a dastardly villain.

I’ve really emphasised the humour here, because it is one of the defining features of the book. Let me just say, though, that I tend not to enjoy the slightly-too-silly-for-me humour sometimes found in ‘boys’ books’. This is not in that category. Brilliantly bonkers yes, but not pants-and-bums silly.

In short, if you enjoy slightly mad humour, magic and/or adventure, this is a book you will love.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It doesn't sound like fun -- losing your parents at the age of ten -- but when you're Oliver Crisp and your parents are obsessed explorers who got carried off on top of perambulating islands and you have to go and find them again on top of your own 'Rambling Isle' (who you name Cliff) together with a short-sighted mermaid called Iris (who can't find her comb) and a Wandering Albatross called Mr Culpepper, then it turns out to be quite a lot of fun actually. To find his folks again Oliver and his crew have to head to The Night of the Seawigs, a competition held every seven years, where the Rambling Isles are judged on the quality and style of their 'seawigs' - headpieces made up of all the decorative detritus they've managed to scoop up on their travels. The winner gets to boss things around, so it's highly prestigious.

The book is a delightful mix of prose and illustration, the two elements being formed together, with the illustrator Sarah McIntyre suggesting ideas Philip Reeve then incorporated into the story and vice versa, and it all works terrifically well. It's one of those books you'd start reading at bedtime for a enthralled child (you have to do the voices!) and then keep reading long after they've fallen asleep. Much fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Oliver has spent all of his ten years of life exploring thanks to two parents who love nothing else. But with no parts of the world left to explore, they are going to settle in a house by the bay. While his parents aren’t happy, Oliver is excited to have his own room, make friends, and even go to school.

However, when they arrive, Oliver’s parents spot some islands in the bay that weren’t there before. They go out to investigate and vanish – as do the islands. Oliver doesn’t panic, however, but begins to try to find them. Just where will the search lead?

I'd been hearing about this book, so I took full advantage of finding it on Vine. I'm so glad I did. This book is very charming with a couple of twists to the plot that surprised me. The characters were wonderfully likable, too. The illustrations helped make this a fast read for me, and I’m sure the target audience (grades 2-5) will be delighted with it as well. There's fantasy and adventure that should appeal to boys and girls.

I'm so glad I picked up a copy of this book. Kids will delight in Oliver's wild tale.

NOTE: I was sent this book in exchange for my honest review.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 13 September 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the best book for children I have read in years and fully deserves awards in my view. It is quirky with a capital QUIRK.

Oliver and Iris are two great characters full of spark and energy. They are the sort of characters children would love to be or know.

The idea of the Rambling Isles is enchanting, especially as each of them needs to collect things for a special wig to enter a competition. Oliver's parents happen to be special enough to be collected by the villain of the piece, the Thurlstone.

Fortunately, Oliver has the help of his own special friendly Rambling Isle, Cliff.

Iris, the short-sighted mermaid, is a clever creation. Her greatest moment is probably when she acts as the propeller to Oliver's dingy.

Stacey de Lacey is suitably nasty as the Thurlstone's teenage sidekick with his team of snot-coloured sea monkeys. Both villains come to a suitable end, especially inventive in the case of the Thurlstone.

It's funny all the way through and the illustrations are stylish, fun and contemporary and play just an important a part as the story itself.

This is a great stand-alone story, but will hopefully be the first of a series. There are enough threads left to write more should the author and illustrator decide to do so. I hope they do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 27 September 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Humour is the crucial element of this first book; this is collaboration between the authors Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. They form a comedic double-act, and as they have very different personalities the resulting collaboration really works. The lead character a ten-year-old Oliver Crisp - the son of explorers who met on the top of Mount Everest - is the star of the narrative, he has gone everywhere in the family 'explorermobile'.

Without giving spoilers you get characters such as a talking albatross, a Mermaid called Iris and Sarcastic Sea the seaweed - but to name few add to the mix some extremely funny and well written narrative and you really are on to a winner here. McIntyre's fabulous illustrations fuse well with the overall feel of the book. As others have commented the age range for reading as, guide only, 7-9, but I have seen adults in the office crack when reading it aloud - very highly recommended.
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