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You can see why Tintin is better known
on 4 August 2010
Herge's plucky cub reporter Tintin is well-known all over the world, particularly in Europe. Less well known are these other creations of his; Jo and Zette Legrand and their pet chimpanzee Jocko. Their father M. Legrand is currently racing to design and help build the Stratoship, a super-fast, prop-driven, high altitude aircraft that it is hoped will make the first transatlantic flight at over 1,000kmph and claim the $10M prize promised in the will of an eccentric millionaire. But with so much at stake, someone is ruthlessly attempting to halt the project and the children are caught up in a web of violence, sabotage and kidnapping. When someone actually tries to blow up M. Legrand's airfield, the children are forced to actually fly the Stratoship away, landing themselves in a whole new kind of trouble...
This book is the first of two, the other entitled Destination New York, and they are probably best bought together... if you have to. I'm personally glad I read this book in the library rather than buy it. It has all the hallmarks of what Herge did so well with Tintin; excitement interspersed with laughs, real science mixed into the action, and a style of drawing faces, setpieces, speech bubbles and onomatopeia that is entirely his own. There is even the fantastical concept that Jocko can "speak" through his thoughts, much as Tintin's dog Snowy did. However, the plot is too thin to be as exciting as the Tintin books and sadly comes over as rather puerile. It has also aged more noticeably than Tintin and one cannot help but feel it is audacious to suppose a prop-driven craft could have broken the sound barrier. (What happens when the sonic boom hits the aircraft?)