Monday, March 23, 2009

Kingdom of the Deep by Frank Hinks


Boris the skull persuades the witch Griselda that she needs a holiday. Before she departs for her cousin Veronica’s home Morgan Castle in Pembrokeshire she castes a spell to change the boys’ holiday plans, but to her distress discovers on arrival that her cousin will not allow children of holiday makers to be eaten whilst they are staying in the castle (bad for custom – the parents get upset and will not come back next year). So Griselda magics the boys to the Kingdom of the Deep and follows to eat them there. In the Kingdom of the Deep the boys are taken by a little mermaid to meet her mother a mermaid queen who in her foolish desire to dance has allowed the Princess of the Night to steal her tail and take possession of her kingdom. With the help of Snuggle the boys get back the tail and in her delight the mermaid Queen begins to sing, breaking the spell of the Princess of the Night.

This has to be one of the most amusing, wonderfully illustrated and quirky books I've ever had the opportunity to review.

The author, Frank Hinks, has a high humour factor in this little book and I was giggling to myself on the train and at work whilst I was reading it, because, you know, the tongue in cheek remarks by Boris the Skull is just so excellent.

The book is aimed at very young readers and the illustrations are colourful, very funny and eye-catching. There is an almost "over the top"-ness about the boys' adventures that make you throw caution to the wind and you just have to run with the story as it is that fun and silly.

The dialogue is quick and snappy and the book is a very quick read and will suit reading out loud to an audience. In fact, it cries out to be read out loud - the action is fast and the characters are very vivid - especially Griselda.

To give you an example of the predicaments the boys get themselves into (this extract is available on the author's site):

"Hallo!" cried a huge wheezing squid swaying out from behind the rock. "How nice to see you boys. Do let me give you just a little squeeze!"

"Oh no! Not again!" grumbled the boys as they began to run.

"Come back! Come back! I only want a little squeeze!" wheezed the squid as she let loose a cloud of choking black ink which enveloped the boys.

The boys were stumbling in the dark when voices whispered in their ears, "Quick! Quick! Climb on our backs before she gets you." The boys clambered on the backs of the sea horses, which swiftly galloped through the waters leaving the squid gasping in anger, "I only wanted a little squeeze!"

So, on the surface Kingdom of the Deep appears as frivolous fun and it can be read as such, but there is an important element of the boys sticking together and remaining firm friends through out their crazy-mad adventure. Family matters! No matter how improbable the adventure, with quick thinking, team-work and resilience, the boys manage to escape the clutches of Griselda and the denizons of the Deep!

The author has one of the best sites I've seen so do pop by and check out the drawings and the rest of the boys' adventures. I did try to upload some of the artwork but the resolution is too high and I didn't think it fair to the author and illustrator to diminish it in size and quality!

Kingdom of the Deep by Frank Hinks is out on 1st June 09 and there will be more crazy-mad adventures to enjoy in The Land of Lost Hair.

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