Barkbelly

Barkbelly is a wooden boy who hatched from an egg shortly after he fell to earth. He was adopted by Gable and Pumpkin Gantry. Barkbelly believed himself to be invulnerable and indestructible so he wasn’t affected by initial attempts of ostracise him. Looking after champion urchins (hedgehogs) proved the ideal job for a wooden boy and all was well until Barkbelly accidentally killed a younger child in the community. So began his exile, an odyssey from Dickensian-like factory to circus life and back to the place from which he had come. Finding his real mother proves not to be the happy dénouement anticipated but all works out for the best in the end. This book has much to recommend it. It is not gimmicky. It is a rattling good read which holds the reader to the end. The plot structure is simple, a quest and reconciliation and a little magic. As a character, Barkbelly is hugely likeable and resilient and we are more than happy to follow his fortunes for all 341 pages. I was delighted by the large print size and lots of cool white spaces on the pages. This explains the physical bulk of the book but I believe Puffin have got it right in terms of attracting young readers into a substantial adventure story. Other publishers please copy. This is a book to get lost in and would suit the 8–12-year-old boy or girl.