By Philip Reeve, Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers (January 26, 2016)
Available in: hardcover, paperback, audiobook, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review were four books in the Not-So-Impossible Tale books.
Pugs of the Frozen North is funny, oddball, and vaudevillian, with nods to mythic folk stories, dreaded urban myths, true history, and made-up creations. It’s a hoot.
First, though, parents and teachers should take note that this is closer to a middle school novel than an easy reader. This would be just about hitting the edge of something that could be considered a chapter book. The hardback length is more than 200 pages, and the typeface is not large. But, there is a lot of white space, illustrations are on every page, and the wild escapade will appeal both to younger readers with strong reading skills and older, reluctant readers who don’t want to be stuck with babyish books.
The story starts out with some real gut-wrenching moments, framed in comedy, wherein the protagonist is left behind in the Arctic with 66 pugs destined to be used as a new ingredient in hot pies. It can be a bit jarring. But after the story starts rolling, distressing elements give way to noodle bars, a benevolent Santa Clausesque “Snowfather,” and an epic dog race. While hard to describe in a short fashion, the story is long on ingenuity and jovial amusement.
The illustrations are quirky and a delight, and echo the Northern style of Jan Brett’s picture books.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….