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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A lively step up from early chapter books, this seafaring romp is packed with hilarious art, lovable misfits, meddlesome monkeys, and tons of kid appeal. When Oliver’s explorer parents go missing, he sets sail on a rescue mission with some new, unexpected friends: a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are even more exciting, unusual, and full of mischief than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad?…

Oliver and the Seawigs

by Philip Reeve

Overall Book Review:

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

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  None

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.

Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:

Abduction of parents.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!