Review: Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Milway
Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey
By Alex Milway
In Stores May 27, 2014
The word “charming” is used pretty often when talking about books, but what does it really mean? I suppose it’s a moving target – what charms one won’t necessarily charm the masses. But I do think that when it comes to children’s literature there are a few elements that can be counted on to endear book to reader. Characters with wildly opposite dispositions (and the humor that stems from their relationship). A journey’s usually good. And vibrant, modern illustrations never hurt. Early Reader Pigsticks and Harold by Alex Milway (The Mousehunter) has all of these elements. It’s entertaining, it’s subtly sophisticated, and it’s a book that readers won’t want to put down.
Pigsticks is an explorer, that much he is sure of. He has his sights set on The Ends of the Earth. But every explorer needs an assistant. Since Pigsticks can’t be his own #2 (yes, he’s so full of himself that was a consideration), he stumbles upon Harold, a kind yet entirely unwilling hamster companion. After Pigsticks promises the journey will end with cake, Harold is convinced. The pair set out and discover they’re in for much more than they expected.
The relationship between our two adventurers is the source of much of the humor. Pigsticks is the embodiment of confidence, unfailingly sure of himself. Harold is the other side of the coin – a fraidy cat (fraidy hamster, rather) who questions his new found friend every step of the way. He also makes the whole journey possible. Children often swing between these two extremes, and will delight in seeing the world from both angles.
The artwork is a luscious mix of ink line work with a colorful yet slightly subdued palette. There are shifts from spot illustrations to comics-style panels to two page spreads – all of which work well to extend the text. They’re appealing through and through.
This is a book that won’t have much trouble getting into the hands of kids. Just make sure you have it ready for them.
Review copy from the publisher.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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