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.
on 7 March 2016
Great story and fantastic illustrations. My son and I love these authors. It's a book that's got him back to reading again with lots of challenging vocabulary as well as an easy text format with the right amount of illustrations per page. He's already read Cakes in Space by the same people. Waiting for the next one to come out.
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.
on 16 November 2015
The story flowed nicely, the illustrations were strong and the chapters were a nice length. Appealed to my sons and daughter so that was a winner. Lovely silly story with a strong message about friendship and self conviction. My kids love this book and now we enjoy spotting seawigs at the beach.
on 7 September 2013
This story is bonkers. It is very silly and me and my daughter loved it. Cliff the shy rambling isle, Oliver the hero, Iris the shortsighted mermaid, Stacey de Lacey the petulant baddy, the smelly green sea monkeys and the sarcastic sea weed are great fun characters. The story rattles along at a fine pace and the illustrations are absolutely superb - full of great detail. I just LOVED the Seawigs at the Night of the Seawigs! Me and my 6 year old daughter read this at bedtime over a week and she was always excited for a new chapter and asking for more. She would recount the whole story and talk about the characters to her dad the next day. Can we please have a sequel? More adventures!!
on 5 May 2014
Review from Orlaith (8) "Oliver and The Seawigs is one of my favourite books in the world. I really like the characters, especially the sea monkeys and Iris the Mermaid. I also love the bad guy, Stacey de Lacey, he's really funny. I also like Sarah's illustrations, they're really funny and they work really well to tell the story. I really like the way she draws the seawigs, the sea monkeys and the mermaids. I think that Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve rule."
I read this book over several bedtimes for my 6-year-old daughter. The book plodded along but had a good finale and the pictures through the book were top-notch.
The story follows 10-year-old Oliver Crisp who is coming home with his parents "to the house which they owned but had hardly ever lived in" because up to now they had spent their lives exploring. Oliver is excited to finally settle down, except his parents go out as soon as they arrive to explore some islands that have appeared nearby. Trouble is they go missing so Oliver has to go looking for them.
On his journeys he meets Mr Culpeper, an albatross, and Iris, a short-sighted mermaid. He also gets to see creatures like the rambling isles, which are like islands but aren't because they move and have bodies and faces beneath the water, sea monkeys, "small and smelly in their coats of green fur" and talking seaweed from the Sarcastic Sea.
Then there is the evil Stacey de Lacey who is a boy, because Stacey can be a boy's name too, and who has kidnapped Oliver's parents on a rambling isle called The Thurlstone, who is "very old and very bad. Bad men did human sacrifices in that temple in its top long ago, and the blood trickled down inside it and turned it wicked."
As for the titular seawigs they are the wigs that the rambling isles wear (as seen on the cover of the book). Every seven years the rambling isles have a contest at the Hallowed Shallows to see who has the best wig, which are decorated with things they find on their travels such as shipwrecks and narwhales. "The winner of Seawigs Night is a sort of king", and the Thurlstone is determined to win, even through theft.
The finale sees Oliver trying to rescue his parents as the Night of the Seawigsis taking place, but he gets caught by Stacey de Lacey and his army of sea monkeys, and only Oliver's friends can save him. My daughter's favourite moment came when she realised that the smaller rambling isle that Oliver had been travelling on called Cliff would come and stand up to the vastly bigger and more evil Thurlstone.
But like I said before I felt it plodded along before the finale, and up to then it was difficult to keep my daughter interested.
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.
This is out there with some of the daftest, quirkiest and entertaining stories currently doing the rounds of mid-age range primary school kids (7-9 year olds). Read it with my grandson and neither of us could stop giggling and laughing all the way through. The story is well written and is backed up with artwork that absolutely complements the text. This story hops about all over the place and is full of sea-monkeys and other weird and wonderful characters. Move over SpongeBob, you've some competition.
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.