Mucking About

John Chambers’ latest book chronicles the mad-cap adventures of Manchán, a young boy who loves mucking around in medieval Ireland. Truly horrified at the idea that his mother wants him to become a monk, Manchán would much rather spend his time getting into scrapes with Muck his pig and his best friend Pagan-of-the-Six-Toes.

Though Chambers’ narrative is set centuries and centuries ago in an Ireland where wolves and druids roam the ancient forests, Manchán’s life and the people who feature in it feel very real. Chambers writes with a flair for mischief and intrigue and Manchán’s spirit for life shines at the core of the story.

The author’s illustrations are a tremendous addition to the text, complementing the action perfectly and bringing characters to life before the reader’s eyes. Maps embed the narrative in the reality of an ancient Ireland that has long since disappeared and Chambers’ eccentric style allows him to render his characters in all their idiosyncrasies. Beautifully produced, the book achieves a distinct and individual synergy between text and image.

This might be Ireland a very, very long time ago, but Manchán’s adventures are timeless and will appeal to many readers’ sense of mischief and mayhem. An original and inventive read that’s also lots of fun, and genuinely charming.