The Strange Tale of Barnabus Kwerk

Barnabus Kwerk’s dreadfully rich, horrible family keep him locked in the attic, when all he wants is to go to school and be a normal boy. But Barnabus is far from normal. When Aunt Jemima appears, Barnabus learns she knows all the secrets: about his family, about his missing mother, about his unique gifts. She steals Barnabus away to the centre of the Earth where his life is turned upside-down.

The Kwerks have forsaken their familial duty. They once protected the golden Clockwork at the centre of the Earth that keeps the world turning, but now have succumbed to greediness, putting the Clockwork and the world in grave danger. Aunt Jemima and her skeleton crew are barely keeping the cogs turning. Enter the reluctant hero Barnabus to save the day. 

McGann creates a unique world of magical creatures and strange places, on and below Earth’s surface. The reader grows to accept this marvellous world alongside Barnabus, who is ignorant in everything, including his ability to sniff out gold for replacement material for the Clockwork. McGann’s humorous narrative addresses the reader directly, making funny asides, creating a sense of intimacy that is entertaining and engaging. The page count is hefty, but there is enough white space and larger type for any young, ambitious reader to succeed with this novel. Cullen’s illustrations do wonders for envisioning where the Clockwork ticks. In the end, Barnabus, who never felt at home on the surface, finds his family in the heart of the Earth.

About the Author
Erika McGann Headshot
Erika McGann grew up in Drogheda, County Louth, and now lives in Dublin. She is the author of a number of children’s books, including the winner of the Waverton Good Read Children’s Prize 2014, The Demon Notebook, the first in her magical series about Grace and her four friends. Other books in the series are: The Broken Spell, The Watching Wood and The Midnight Carnival. She is also the author of
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About the Illustrator
Philip Cullen Headshot
Phillip is an illustrator from Dublin, mainly working on children’s books. He Studied Classical Animation at BCFE and has worked for over 10 years in the Youth and Community sector using creative arts to teach children and young people in an informal education setting.
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Barnabus Kwerk - book cover
Publication Date
September 2022