on 27 June 2012
I was really pleased to see that Guy Bass had released another book based around the Stitch Head character. The book is a really beautiful blend of excellent prose writing for children, combined with amazing illustrations by Pete Williamson. The last volume was a spooky castle mystery, and now Stitch Head takes to the high seas in this fast-paced, well-plotted pirate adventure. The narrative is balanced well; engaging for younger children who are being read to, yet with plenty of word-play and amusing jokes for older children who are independent readers. Most of all, this character has bags of charm and appeal - you really root for him through all his adversities - and all of the detailed and abundant artwork in the book makes it easy for young readers to really immerse themselves in the story.
Stitch Head was the first creation of the Mad Professor's back when the Mad Professor was still just a mad boy. Stitch Head, having been forgotten by the Mad Professor stays on at Castle Grotteskew, completely loyal to the Professor. Hidden from view, Stitch Head uses his skill with potions and chemistry to gentle and civilize each of the Professor's mad creatures, as they are created, with the result being that the scary Castle is really filled with terrifying looking but actually gentle and civilized creatures of all sorts of horrible aspect.
That is the set up from book one in this series, and it continues here in book two. But while I admired book one as imaginative and charming in an odd ball way, I really like this book two much more. In this volume all of the odd elements have blended together and mellowed and the characters have become more focused, as has the plotting.
So, in book one we had Stitch Head, who was sometimes a bit of a moper and sadsack. We had the Mad Professor, who seemed cold and uncaring and not very interesting. We had Stitch Head's sidekick, Creature, who was awfully one dimensional and simple. And, we had a lot more explication than we did plot.
But here, Stitch Head has taken charge of his almost life, has come to grips with the fact he is a man made monster, and has become more assertive about having his own adventurous life. Stitch has some spunk and backbone.Creature has become a funnier and more insightful side kick, who provides comedy relief but also contributes to the action and helps move the story along. Arabella, a tough-as-nails-heart-of-gold local girl who showed up just at the end of book one is now a full fledged character and adds a lot of common sense and skeptical banter to the proceedings, (which is a nice balance to Stitch Head's essential sweetness). Then, we get a pirate based plot and all of the stars align for a really engaging and exciting adventure.
And this is a funny book. There is slapstick, sly humor, funny banter, subtle throwaways, running jokes, one off situations, and some silliness. All of it good humored, and much of it balanced by a certain wry touch of sympathy for outsiders and those with differences. Very engaging stuff.
So, everything has been improved, deepened and made more interesting in this volume two. Some of the nagging reluctance I had about whole heartedly embracing the Stitch Head books has been erased. This is now top notch, imaginative, non-standard, amusing reader friendly fare.
For what it's worth, it would probably help to read book one first, just in order to get all of the characters' origins stories straight. But, the author does a very good job in the first few chapters of bringing the reader up to speed, and while this works best as just a refresher it also works well as an introduction and so should allow a reader to get right into this volume.
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.
on 27 June 2012
Another great Stitchhead adventure. My son has always been a fan of pirates so i pick up anythign suitable and pirate themed. He loved the last book and now it has pirates in it too he is delighted. Good pacey read with plenty of monsters, boats and pirates. The illustrations add to it too. It's the same artist as in the first book so lots of creepy monsters with tentacles. Recommended.