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Oliver and the Seawigs

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by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Overall: An amazing book with beautiful illustrations, a hilarious plot, and fun for both children and adults!


I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Rambling isles, sarcastic seaweed, seawigs, and plump nearsighted mermaids, oh my!

“Oliver and the Seawigs” is absolutely one of the best children’s books that I have read in a while. It’s funny, captivating, and I found myself being emotionally attached to the characters. I ate up this book in one morning, and I was begging for more, wanting to read more of Oliver, Cliff, Mr.Culpeper, and lovely Iris!

The story begins with Oliver, who is the only of two wild and adventurous explorers. All he wishes is for a normal life, with friends and not having to move around. But when all of a sudden his parents disappear, Oliver must go on an adventure to rival all other adventures. Atop the rambling isle Cliff, Oliver travels with Mr. Culpeper the albatross and Iris the nearsighted mermaid.

Most people would be a bit alarmed to find that their parents had disappeared along with a whole bunch of uncharted islands. They might feel inclined to call the police, or the coast guard, or just run about shouting. Not Oliver. He was a Crisp, and made of sterner stuff than that. 

You’re going to love this book. The humor is simple and fun, but not childish. The sarcastic seaweed and the adorable seamonkeys bring a whimsical touch. The characters feel real, and you become so very invested it’s almost unnatural (I can’t believe I shipped characters from a children’s book!) The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and blend in perfectly with the narrative as well as the About the Author and Illustrator sections at the end of the book. It is a short read but I was very captivated by the illustrations that I just took the time to look at it all. The details in the hair and seawigs are intricate, and clearly the illustrators took a long time in designing and making each beautiful piece.

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“My name,” the boy said importantly, “is Stacy de Lacey.”

“But that’s a girl’s name!” blurted Oliver.

Stacey de Lacey’s face turned a dark shade of red.. “Silence!” he shouted. “Stacy is one of those names that can be for a boy or a girl! Like Hilary, or Leslie, or…um…Anyway…”

However, one of my favorite aspects of “Oliver and the Seawigs” is the character Iris. There is not often that you see a character in a book (no matter the genre) that is plump just for the sake of being so. She is a bigger girl but that is not an aspect of hers that is focused on or mocked, she just happens to be that way. There aren’t many books that cater to this demographic, without having to involve a plot or subplot involving the character’s weight. It’s refreshing, and–I would say–very progressive.

“So that’s what you look like!” she said, peering at Oliver through the thick lenses. “Oh.”

“What do you mean, ‘Oh’?” asked Oliver.

“Nothing,” said Iris. 

Overall! I love this book. I’ve ordered my own copy so that I can keep it forever. I highly recommend this book to any parent who wants to enjoy a book with their kid…well…and pretty much everyone who wants to have a fun and lighthearted adventure with beautiful pictures to match. Go out and buy this book, then get dressed up in your finest seawig and hop aboard a Rambling Isle! And don’t forget the sea monkeys!

This was, by far, the most comfortable way to go exploring. 

 

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The Antigone Poems

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ALTAIRE PRODUCTIONS THE ANTIGONE POEMS

by Marie Slaight and illustrated by Terrence Tasker

Overall: A short and sweet, yet very vivid interpretation of a classic. 


I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review. 

I will be the first to admit that Sophocles’ Antigone is one of the plays that I have forgotten a lot about, but I do remember the praise of Antigone by my English teacher in high school, praising her rebellion, and the message of suffering in the living world only to receive salvation in the afterlife. While not as dramatic or as darkly humorous as Opedipus Rex, you are given a very powerful story in this tragedy.

I disagree with some of the reviews that I have read that Marie Slaight creates a modern retelling of the aforementioned play. I do not believe that these poems will be understood as someone telling the classic with a modern twist, which is a little misleading depending on how you read some of the descriptions and reviews of this book. However, this is still an excellent book, you will be brought into the symbolism and imagery of Antigone’s heroic yet terrible narrative. These poems were written in the 1970’s, attached with charcoal sketches of the same time period when the author and illustrator were in Montreal and Toronto.

However, don’t think that you wouldn’t enjoy the book just because you know nothing of Antigone. These poems are beautiful and brilliant as stand alone poems. I was surprised how fast I ate up these poems, and they were very quick to read. I believe I finished this book for my second time around just on the bus back to my apartment. You will be amazed at the morbid yet impeccably intricate details, subtle rhyme, and alliteration that is littered through every poem in this small collection.

The only issue have with this book might just be a little picky. As I’ve said before that this book is short, something you can eat up time and time again in little time. With that said, I have to say that it’s a bit overpriced. From the Antigone Poems website, it is about 25 dollars. I got the entire Divine Comedy in paperback with that much. There are some Amazon sellers who are selling the book for about sixteen dollars. It’s a little more reasonable, as the book is about a hundred pages (even though it felt a lot shorter on my Kindle) and it makes me curious about the formatting of the hard copy.

The charcoals are GORGEOUS. They are definitely a huge plus for the book, you get a couple littered in between the poems and a lot of beautiful charcoal sketches at the end of the book. I can admit that it might be a reason for the high price.

In the end, this book is definitely something to pick up and read. I recommend you shop around for a good price, or just go ahead and buy it nice and new! I saw some pictures of the physical cover and I admit it is beau-ti-ful!

You can buy the book HERE!