Review: Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Title: Oliver and the Seawigs
Author: Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
Publication Date: July 22nd, 2014 (First published September 5th, 2013)
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Pages: 208
ISBN13: 978-0385387880
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
A lively step up from early chapter books, this seafaring romp is packed with hilarious art, lovable misfits, meddlesome monkeys, and tons of kid appeal. 

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?
A | B&N | Gr

Philip Reeve was born in Brighton in 1966. He has one younger sister. He wrote his first story at the tender age of five; it was about a spaceman called Spike and his dog Spook. He went to St Luke's School in Queens Park, Brighton where he enjoyed writing, drawing, history and acting, and didn't enjoy maths, P.E. or getting duffed up. Philip Reeve - Biography His early influences included Oliver Postgate, Jackanory, Blue Peter, Asterix, Look and Learn, Swallows and Amazons, Airfix models, Whizzer and Chips, Rosemary Sutcliff, Action Man, JRR Tolkein, Star Wars, biscuits, bikes and boats.

Later he went to Stanley Deason Secondary School in Whitehawk, next door to, and largely indistinguishable from, Brighton's municipal tip. There he continued to enjoy writing, drawing, history and acting and quite liked science but still wasn't keen on maths, P.E. or getting duffed up. During his stay he became interested in illustration, Arthurian legend and making ultra-low-budget films on Super 8mm cine film. As a teenager he went on to study for A Levels at Varndean Sixth Form College where he persisted in his enjoyment of writing, drawing, history and acting, but still didn't like maths. No P.E. or getting duffed up was involved.

Then it was Ho! for art college; a Foundation Course at Brighton followed by a two year diploma at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology which has since changed its name to something else, possibly in an effort to shake off the shame of ever having sheltered him. Three years as an art student having rendered him basically unemployable, he returned to Brighton, there to work in a small independent bookshop while pursuing various non-paying sidelines as writer/producer/director of low budget film and comedy projects in his spare time. Towards the end of this time he co-wrote a musical, The Ministry of Biscuits, with writer and composer Brian Mitchell, but was eventually forced by lack of funds to track down some cartooning work and finally entered the wonderful world of the freelance illustrator in the early 1990s. There he was to remain for several years, providing the pictures for several Horrible Histories, lots of Murderous Maths and sundry other hilarious and improving books.

Since his spare time was no longer big enough to accommodate film and comedy projects he turned to writing novels, the first of which, Mortal Engines, was published in 2001. It won the Smarties Gold Award, the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and the Blue Peter ‘Book I Couldn't Put Down’ Award, a surprise which prompted him to say ‘Bl**dy H*ll!’ to Jaqueline Wilson in front of millions of viewers, offending any among them who could lip-read; small wonder that he never got a Blue Peter Badge. Four sequels to Mortal Engines followed, the last of which, A Darkling Plain, won both the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. There has also been a trilogy of steam-powered Victorian space adventures, Larklight, Starcross and Mothstorm, and a novel set in Dark Age Britain called Here Lies Arthur which won the Carnegie Medal 2008.
Philip's 2009 novel, Fever Crumb returns to the world of Mortal Engines. Along with its sequels A Web of Air and Scrivener's Moon, it tells the story of how the Traction Era began.  His latest book, Goblins, introduces a new world, the Westlands, a land of magic and adventure dominated by the ruined fortress of Clovenstone. A sequel, provisionally entitled Goblins vs Dwarves will be published in 2013, and Philip is also preparing a series of shorter books co-written with the illustrator Sarah McIntyre.  He is currently at work on the final novel in the Fever Crumb quartet.

Philip and his wife Sarah moved from Brighton to Devon in 1998, and now live on Dartmoor, where their son Sam was born in 2002.

Illustrator and writer Sarah McIntyre is easy to spot in her pointy glasses and hats. She makes picture books and comics with two other artists (Gary Northfield and Elissa Elwick) in an old police station – complete with jail cells! – in Deptford, south London. Right now she is collaborating with Philip Reeve to create at least four highly illustrated chapter books for Oxford University Press, starting with Oliver and the Seawigs, and the new Cakes in Space this autumn. She also has a collaborative picture book coming out with David O’Connell, Jampires, which they both wrote and illustrated, and which began as a Comics Jam.

Sarah also writes her own books, including There’s a Shark in the Bath, and she’s currently working on her second solo picture book for Scholastic UK.
Her comic Vern and Lettuce appeared weekly in The Guardian and in the DFC; in September 2010, David Fickling launched it as a book as part of the DFC Library, winning the Leeds Graphic Novel Award. Her picture book with Giles Andreae, Morris the Mankiest Monster, introduced the world to a loveable monster with stomach-turning personal habits. Morris sold out in its first month and has won both the Sheffield and Bishop’s Stortford Children’s Book Awards, as voted by children. Sarah loves to get both kids and adults drawing, particularly drawing comics.

Sarah updates her blog on LiveJournal nearly every day with drawings and event photos. You can follower her on Twitter, on Facebook, on Tumblr and on Instagram.

      Oliver Crisp has lived quite an adventurous life at a very young age. His parents are explorers, and they have decided that it's time to settle down. However, a group of mysterious islands have made their way into the body of water that surrounds their home, and Oliver's parents must explore them right away! Suddenly, Oliver's parents go missing...and so do the islands! In this entertaining tale, Reeve and McIntyre introduce the perfect hybrid between graphic novel and middle-grade chapter book that will charm and amuse the whole family!

     When I first received this book, I had no idea what a "seawig" was. I thought it was some kind of sea creature that the author had made up. I was most pleasantly surprised when I discovered what a "seawig" was just that! A wig...made from the sea! Add a nearsighted mermaid, some rudely sarcastic seaweed, enough sea monkeys to fill an entire village, and you have Oliver and the Seawigs. 

     This book is so many levels of cool that I ran out and bought myself a copy! This is the perfect book for the child transitioning from picture books to chapter books. They will enjoy illustrations on almost every page, and the lines are spaced out enough that they will breeze through the book in no time. The entire layout and design is esthetically pleasing and easy for young eyes to look at. It reminded me a lot of Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. The storyline and artwork is embellished with levels of creativity that will keep the reader turning pages with anticipation.

     I. love. this. book. I cannot stress how much I love this book. I've already recommended it to several people. I'm sure that it's release here in the US will vie for several awards (deservingly so!). 
     Be sure to grab yourself a copy and join in on the fun! While you're at it, here are some activity sheets that can be found on Sarah McIntyre's website for some added entertainment:  Oliver and the Seawigs Activity Sheets

If I were voting, I'd say Ms. McIntyre is definitely in the running for Best Seawig:

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