I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.
Picklewitch and Jack and the Sea Wizard’s Secret by Claire Barker, illustrated by Teemu Juhani, published by Faber Children’s
So, I have been getting a lot of bookpost recently. Mostly that I’ve ordered and paid for, some that I’d requested or been offered to review. But last week a mysterious book-shaped parcel arrived and I had no idea what it could be.
People – it was THE NEW PICKLEWITCH AND JACK! It was so unexpected and such a lovely surprise!
And most importantly, it more than lived up to expectations! I loved both of the first Picklewitch and Jack books (you can read my reviews of them here and here) so I had high hopes and this was every bit as warm, funny and fantastic as the first two.
If you’ve yet to meet Picklewitch then firstly, you’ve been missing out, and secondly, go back and start at book one. This would read fine as a standalone but you’d only want to read the rest immediately and you’ll get so much more from it if you see Picklewitch and Jack’s friendship develop from the beginning.
But if you’ve set your sights on starting midway through the series, maverick that you are – Jack is a quiet, clever, rule-following, fossil-collecting boy. His best friend is Picklewitch who is, to put it simply, an absolute force of nature (both literally and metaphorically).
And here, they’re off to the seaside. Well, Jack is. Picklewitch is not so sure (read: she is stubbornly certain she’s not going and sulkily demanding Jack doesn’t go either) until she hears there’ll be I Screams, then her bag is packed (by the birds. At her say so. And with Jack’s lunch sneaked in of course.)
There’s a school trip to meet a famous fossil hunter and hunt for fossils – Jack’s dream! But Picklewitch isn’t sold (read: can’t think of anything more boring than fudgenutting fizzles) and is much more interested in befriending (read: getting cake from) the Sea Wizard she spies on the beach.
But what has Scowling Margaret got hidden in her cave? And what is our famous fossil hunter really searching for?
This is another brilliant adventure from this perfectly paired and utterly lovable duo.
It’s full of holiday excitement – fossil hunting by the sea, splashing in rock pools in a rather…retro…bathing costume (I loved this!), sneaking out at midnight, messages in bottles and undersea caves; and there’s a great twist in the trip revealing both a perfectly painted baddie and a…well I can’t spoil that!
But it’s the characters that really make these books and they are in top form here.
Jack and Picklewitch both play off each other and balance each other brilliantly, and its lovely to see their friendship so strong now.
Of course, Picklewitch is the star, larger than life, and bursting from the page in Teemu Juhani’s exuberant illustrations. She fizzes with energy and unbridled mischief, and Claire Barker’s utterly joyous, totally bonkers, cleverly creative use of language is, as ever, perfect for her.
She is one of the funniest, liveliest, most lovable, well-drawn characters I know and I love her. Everyone should be just a bit more Picklewitch (even if just through taking up her favourite exclamations of excitement, declarations of disapproval and irritated insults – “WOT a fudgenut. WOT a fopdoodle. WOT a frazzler.”)
But here there’s also the excellent Scowling Margaret. Brilliantly depicted by both Claire and Teemu (ahem, and Picklewitch – “A proper old mugswoggler and hobbledehoy she is.”) she’s everything a Sea Wizard should be and the scene in her cave after Picklewitch has invited herself for
tea cake is genius in its silences, small talk and solid slabs of cake.
I love this illustration – it’s just so full of character and has such a story all on its own.
If you couldn’t tell already I thought this addition to one of my favourite series was the absolute kipper’s knickers. Engaging, energetic and laugh out loud funny – everyone needs Picklewitch and Jack in their lives.