cover image Far-Flung Adventures: Fergus Crane

Far-Flung Adventures: Fergus Crane

Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell, . . Random/ Fickling, $14.95 (214pp) ISBN 978-0-385-75088-2

Stewart and Riddell, fresh from the success of their Edge Chronicles series, start anew with a style that is part Dickensian comedy, part pirate adventure. Ten-year-old Fergus Crane and his mother live in near-poverty; she runs the cake counter at the village bakery and assembles paper horses to earn extra money, he attends school aboard the Betty-Jeanne , a docked boat staffed by teachers with eye patches and hooks for hands. One night, a silver box with wings flies into Fergus's bedroom; it soon returns with a warning note ("Fergus Crane, you are in great danger! I am sending help... your long lost Uncle Theo"). The next night, he gets a visit from a mechanical Pegasus that whisks him away to the Fateful Voyage Trading Company. There he finds not only Uncle Theo but a ship's log that offers insight into the fate of his missing father. Talking penguins, a lunchbox that can draw maps and a musical about a fish on a bicycle contribute to the overall air of endearing silliness; the narrative incorporates these amusingly ludicrous elements with matter-of-fact ease. As with the Edge Chronicles, creative page layouts incorporate Riddell's whimsical illustrations in unusual ways, at times pleasingly blurring the line between novel and graphic novel. Ages 8-12. (May)