Muddle Earth

Date finished: 6-29-08
Author: Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
Category: Fantasy, Children’s
Published: 2003
Pages: 450
Rating: 4/5

Basic Plot:
Joe Jefferson is just trying to escape the chaos of his house when he takes his dog, Henry, out for a walk. But a muttered spell by the greatest (and only) wizard in Muddle Earth takes Joe and Henry to a place where – well, maybe not so much chaos as craziness – reigns and Joe is expected to take up the mantle of a warrior-hero. Three adventures ensue, making for three “books” within the greater work, as Joe and Henry battle wits with an ogre, a dragon and a dark forces within Giggle Glade.

My assessment:
These boys have done it again!! Created an imaginative world where lakes float up in the air, ogres have cuddly-wuddlys and the cutlery has disappeared. (It’s important. I promise!) And Chris’ artwork is superb as always.

There’s a bit more humor in this one (and there’s apparently more on the way!) than in The Edge Chronicles series, making it appropriate for a slightly younger audience. My 8-year-old friend was intrigued by the description on the back promising “a great battle between the forces of good, evil and sort-of okay”. While the not-so-great wizard in the story is named Randalf and there are three “books” within the main book, that’s about all the Lord of the Rings reference you’re going to get. Thank goodness. Unless it’s a parody, I want something original.

Complaints? Well, Joe is a pretty likeable kid, although possibly not as fleshed out as he could be. Outside of his family, we really didn’t get any kind of picture of what kind of kid he was like outside of his warrior-hero gig. The budgie (that’s a type of bird for us Americans) Veronica is probably my favorite character, although she was getting a little tiresome by the end. I’m hoping for at least one book with a story of Brenda, Warrior-Princess in the future, but I won’t hold my breath. Paul and Chris are definitely writers for boys. That said, I think any 8-year-old boy you know, would love this one, although maybe as a read-a-loud.

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