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.