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The problem with getting into your forties and beyond is that you inevitably need reading glasses.  I managed to lose mine for a whole day this weekend, but luckily I found them this morning – phew!  So yesterday I had to read with my old glasses (which are now perfect for computer work, but no good for small type).  I had to find something with bigger print to read, hence I picked out this book for children aged around 7+ from my daughter’s bookcase.

Hugo Pepper by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

My daughter and I are big fans of Chris Riddell’s Ottoline books. Indeed I’m a fan of Riddell’s wonderfully quirky and intricate illustrations in general – he currently does the Literary Review front cover each month (see right), and designed the cover for The Graveyard Book amongst others.  He has a very particular style, and his girl faces in particular are fab in an Alice in Wonderland meets Wednesday Addams sort of way with their high foreheads and intelligent stares.   So while I was familiar with him, I’d not yet read any of his collaborations with Paul Stewart, of which there are a growing number, including the bestselling Edge Chronicles.

Hugo Pepper is the third in another series called Far Flung Adventures, and it was an absolute delight.  The babe in arms Hugo was found in a crashed sledge by snowmen, who then left him on the doorstep of a reindeer herder couple in the Far North, who adopt him and bring him up.  Although he loves them dearly, when he’s about ten years old, the discovery of his parents’ wrecked sled leads him to seek his home. So he sets off on an adventure, eventually arriving in Firefly Square.  There he meets a whole group of family friends who are under siege from the new evil editor of the town newspaper which used to be edited by Hugo’s grandfather. It is now publishing scurrilous attacks on his friends to drive them out of town…

We meet weird and wonderful characters in this adventure – walking Mermaids, Lighthousekeepers, Pirates, Artisan tea-blenders and carpetweavers, a one-eared cat and lots of big footed snowmen.  If you like Lemony Snicket, you’ll definitely enjoy this tale and its illustrations; and if I’m honest, I’d love to read the rest of this series and more by this pair – even with my normal glasses!  (9/10) We bought this book.

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