The U.S. gets a tremendous treat with the introduction of the Edge Chronicles
, a fantastic boy-meets-world saga from British author-illustrator team Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.
An un-traditional coming-of-age story, the Edge Chronicles begins with Beyond the Deepwoods, in which our put-upon protagonist, Twig (a misplaced human boy who's being raised by woodtrolls) gets a hint of his true heritage, sheds his Deepwoods upbringing, and does the unthinkable: He strays from the path. Alone for the first time and surviving by his wits, Twig must surmount all manner of perils to pursue a destiny that is whisperingly, mysteriously promised to him "beyond the Deepwoods." From one frying pan to the next (but never quite into the fire) Twig either bests or befriends a ferocious, Carroll-esque menagerie of Deepwoods denizens--from foul-mouthed halitoads and red-faced slaughterers to galumphing banderbears and piranha-Tribble wig-wigs.
Paul Stewart lays the foundation for some pretty terrific storytelling in this first book--only hinting at what lies ahead in this world where rocks float and sky pirates ride the sky above--but the contribution of illustrator Chris Riddell can't be overstated. Whether in the jowly cheeks of the gyle goblins' Grossmother or the menacing gaze of the supra-evil Gloazgomer, Riddell (an accomplished political cartoonist) manages to match Stewart's descriptions blow-for-blow in evocative pen-and-ink. Grownups and kids alike will rush to the store to pick up the second adventure, the tantalizingly titled Stormchaser. (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes
Gr. 4-6. The first volume in the Edge Chronicles series, which is set in a well-articulated world called the Edge, tells the story of a boy named Twig, from his childhood through his first adventures as a sky pirate. Twig, who learns that the woodtrolls who raised him are his foster parents and that he was abandoned as an infant, leaves the only home he knows and sets off through the Deepwoods to find his destiny. Along the way he makes a few friends, encounters many strange and dangerous creatures, and endures a long series of trials, triumphs, and misfortunes before locating his birth father, the captain of a sky pirate ship. Some children may eventually tire of Twig's ongoing encounters with strange creatures, such as the spindlebugs and the terrible gloamglozen, but those with hearty appetites for adventure (and strong stomachs) will find this a tremendously exciting fantasy. Riddell's wonderfully detailed ink drawings, on nearly every page, create a strong sense of the believable, well-imagined otherworld and bring its strange creatures to life. An inventive, promising start to a series originally published in Britain. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved