Philip Reeve has written fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian/steampunk novels for ages ranging from middle grade to adult; however, Oliver and the Sea Wigs is his first foray into chapter books. This novel is a step up in difficulty from the earliest chapter books and is fabulously illustrated by Sarah Mcintyre with whimsical and charming artwork. Stylistically engaging, the opening chapter is reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. The book cover sports “A Not So Impossible Tale” and that is not particularly accurate since this book is stuffed with impossible fantasy creatures. (The sea monkeys are a personal favorite.) With vocabulary such as “festoons” and “tussocks”, this book may be a stretch for some early readers, but the prose has a nice meter that would make for a great read-aloud.
Although the CBR age scale starts at age nine, this book is a good fit for even younger readers. Other than the challenging vocabulary, readers younger than nine years old may be ideal, as the story is simple and might feel slightly silly to a more sophisticated reader.
Another book is already planned for the series. While you are waiting, I strongly suggest young adult and adult readers check out Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines, a brilliant steampunk dystopian novel–written before dystopian was the rage.
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Random House Children’s Books
Violence/Gore: Destruction of property; kidnapping; report of a perilous situation; report that human sacrifices were made and the blood turned a mythical creature evil; concern that characters will be sacrificed; mythical creature tries to step on other mythical creatures; objects are thrown at characters.
Mature Subject Matter:
Abduction of parents.
Alcohol / Drug Use: