A Delightfully Imaginative Tale of Derring-Do
Oliver and the Seawigs
by Philip Reeve; Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
Series: The Not-So-Impossible Tales (Book 1)
US Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Original UK Publication Date: September 5, 2013
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Buy the Book
When Oliver’s explorer parents go missing, he sets sail on a rescue mission with some new, unexpected friends: a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are even more exciting, unusual, and full of mischief than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad?
Gasp! Oliver Crisp is actually excited at the prospect of going to school! Because he’s spent nearly the whole of his ten years in the wake of his explorer parents on one adventure after another, he’s never set foot in a school. So when the Crisps have mapped every uncharted territory and climbed every mountain imaginable, they set out to settle down. Though “the house he [is] coming home to [is] one [he’s] only seen on vacations,” Oliver Crisp is beyond thrilled. But, as the Crisp family pulls into view of their seaside home, Mr. and Mrs. Crisp spot some unfamiliar islands in the distance. And before he’s even finished unpacking, Oliver’s domestic bliss has turned into another adventure — his parents have disappeared!
Reeve’s refreshingly original story has Oliver, who sets off to find his parents, meeting and befriending all manner of peculiar sea creatures: There’s a Wandering Albatross — excuse me, a Diomeda exulans named Mr. Culpeper — a near-sighted young mermaid named Iris whose ill-attempted siren song was actually directed at a walrus, and an utterly unremarkable island — a large rock, really — whom Oliver names Cliff. (Cliff, you see, was so unexceptional that passing sailors never bothered to name him. Unless you count that “Danger: Submerged Rocks” sign….)
In addition to finding his parents, Oliver is out to help poor Cliff win The Night of the Seawigs, a competition between the Rambling Isles who wander the seas collecting interesting objects to wear like crowns, or rather, wigs atop their heads.
No heroic quest is complete without obstacles. Just as Odysseus braved Sylla and Charybdis, Oliver stands tall against the insults of Sarcastic Seaweed and outlasts a swarming tide of sea monkeys. And, with the help of his new friends, the daring and brave Oliver confronts the evil giant island, The Thurlstone, and Stacey de Lacey, the piratical bully with a girlish name.
Happily, Oliver and his motley band of outcasts discover that even their perceived weaknesses can be strengths. And that there is no better prize than good friends.
— Dawn Teresa
5 of 5 Hearts. A Delightfully Imaginative Tale of Derring-Do.
Philip Reeve’s Oliver and the Seawigs is an endearingly idiosyncratic tale that, together with the whimsical three-color illustrations of Sarah McIntyre, will capture the imaginations of intermediate readers ready to venture out from early chapter books into more challenging waters. (Since this is the start of a series, further fantastical journeys await! Next up: Cakes in Space !)
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Random House and NetGalley for allowing me access to the title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”