Top positive review
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Brilliant Chapter Book Follow-up
on 9 May 2015
Jonny Duddle started the Jim and Matilda series with the very successful picture books The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door. These funny, brightly colored, amusingly illustrated and ripping books introduced Jim the pirate lad and his friend Matilda, as well as Jim's entire pirate family.
In a great creative stroke, Duddle has moved on to write and illustrate a series of graphic chapter books that follow upon the picture books and feature the same characters and settings. As a consequence a kid can start with the picture books. If he or she likes them then this chapter book and its sequels just naturally draw them along to the next reading level. So, this ends up as a series a little reader can grow with. What a nice plan.
And these are worth getting into. The story here is that ghost pirates are raiding pirate museums, gathering pirate treasure. They land at Dull-on-Sea and clean out the local Museum. Matilda sends a message in a bottle to Jim and his family, and they arrive to help stop the ghost pirates. SPOILER. It turns out that there is something important in Dull-on-Sea that could send the ghost pirates away for good and so the race is on between the ghosts and Matilda/Jim to see who can get the whatchamacallit first.
This book has great appeal. There are lots of funny bits, frantic action, clever wordplay, deadpan humor, and some sly bits for adults. Matilda and Jim are cheerful and resourceful can-do heroes. Added appeal arises from the nice match between the graphic aspect and the printed words. This is not a "comic" or a pure graphic novel, but more along the lines of a very heavily illustrated book. The drawings are black and white, but heavily detailed and exaggerated in an amusing fashion. They also clarify what's been written and so help a younger reader avoid confusion and follow the story, which can be a bit antic and breathless.
The upshot is that this book is entertaining, good-natured, funny and pretty exciting. While it stands alone just fine it's also a great extension of Duddle's pirate series for the picture book crowd, which just strikes me as a swell idea. A very nice and satisfying find.