Oliver and The Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Copy courtesy of Random House
Children's Books
Earlier in the month I was at The Bookies picking up a couple of birthday gifts, and the sign in the store says “one for them, and one for you…” (OK there really isn’t a sign that says that, but it is implied!) Anyhow, I picked up a new book and added it to my TBR stack when I got home.  After finishing my last book I picked it up and started reading it.  After a few pages I wasn’t too sure I was going to like, but a plodded onwards.  A while later I regretted buying the book.  You know that thought?  “Maybe I just take it back and say I already had a copy etc.”  There is just something about when the author talks directly to the reader and warns us that if we want to read something nice to stop reading and find another book.  Lemony Snicket was brilliant at this, but others just can’t get it right. 

As I teach my readers if you really don’t like a book put it down and get something else.  Cautiously, I approached the teetering mountain of books and selected a brilliantly and joyful book entitled Oliver and The Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre.  Oliver Crisp is ten years old.  He has spent his entire live traveling the globe with his explorer parents.  They finally decide to return home to Deepwater Bay, but as they come around the bend to settle they see islands that were not there before.  After unloading the explorermobile his parents take off saying they won’t be long.  However, they don’t return, and Oliver sets out to find them.  He lands on a small island and meets a talking Wandering Albatross named Mr. Culpeper.   He, also, befriends a plump, nearsighted and tone death mermaid named Iris.  These islands aren’t really islands they are Rambling Isles, and Oliver is on the head of one of them.  After brief introductions and naming their isle Cliff the four set out to find his parents.  On top of the search for Oliver’s mom and dad the friends must help cliff prepare for the seawigs completion.  It is a year celebration where the Rumbling Isles compete for the best seawig using flotsam from the sea.  (More on flotsam later!)  Along the way they encounter a mean isle and an even meaner kid named Stacey de Lacey.  Yes, boys can be named Stacey too!

I loved this book.  It was a very fast read, and the characters are very different. How many stories have a plump nearsighted mermaid that can’t sing? The vocabulary is VERY rich.  Mr. Reeve is British so there are many terms that will make kids think and hopefully ask for clarification.  It even has the word flotsam.  When I was in high school it was one of our vocabulary words.  Living in a high desert there is not a whole lot of interesting flotsam.  For years I wondered why did I have to learn this word so out of context from anything? My first beach visit after moving to Boston finally answered that question, but it would have been so much nicer if I had learned it from a story.


The other day I wrote about finding my first read aloud, and today I know what my first book talk will be, Oliver and The Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre.  I think my third graders are going to love this book!

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