Penhaligon Brush, Book 1
Pages: 230 pages
Finished: Mar. 1, 2010
First Published: Sept. 25, 2007
Genre: Children, animal fantasy, adventure
"It'll never come off, you know," Bill Goat said carelessly as Penhaligan Brush polished the sign on the apothecary door.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.
Reason for Reading: Read aloud to the 9yo. Both my son and I love animal fantasy and the plot sounded like it would be something we would enjoy.
Summary: Penhaligon Brush is the town's apothecary. When he was just a cub his parents left him in the care of a Badger family but never came back, so he was raised as a member of that family. When Penhaligon receives a message from his brother Bancroft Badger to come to Porthleven right away, he hurries off. But when he arrives, Penhaligon finds that the village is under the cruel dictatorship of Lady Ferball's nephew, Sir Derek. Lady Ferball is apparently ill and hasn't been seen since his arrival while Bancroft has been arrested and thrown in the dungeon! Trying to see reason with Sir Derek, Penhaligon himself is sent to the dungeon and here he finds out about Sir Derek's diabolical plans to shipwreck the coming princess of Spatavia so he and his ferret army can capture all the gold and other riches aboard. Penhaligon, Bancroft, Lady Ferball and her companion Rowan along with the clandestine help of certain villagers set out to foil Sir Derek's plans and free the village from his clutches.
Comments: Both my son and I thoroughly enjoyed this. Set in a medieval world the book has a "Redwall" aura to it but aimed at a much younger audience. The separation of good and evil is very clear; the good characters are always good and the bad are not just bad but downright nasty. We both fell in love with a secondary character called Hotchi-witchi, a hedgehog, who ends up joining the gang. He's a brave little guy despite his fears and very comical. My son also enjoyed Old Amon, the lighthouse keeper, who didn't say a lot but when he did he had the habit having say "oh, aye" all the time. Ds asked what it meant and being from Yorkshire myself I admit to putting on a bit of a broad accent when reading Old Amon's lines so we had ds going around for days saying "oh, aye" to everything!
The story is a lot of fun. Plenty of action and adventure right from the start and non-stop until the end. The book is profusely illustrated with wonderfully detailed drawings. Not only are there full page illustrations in every chapter but there are also illustrations on the bottom or along the side of some text pages as well. You can't go four or five pages without next coming upon an illustration. This will certainly make the book friendly to kids who are reluctant to read picture-less chapter books. The book ends properly with a complete ending but does suggest a sequel which indeed there is, The Curse of the Romany Wolves. We will be reading that in the not too distant future. Recommended.