Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean
From the author and illustrator who brought us The Savage comes this new book. Three children, Harry, Sue and Little Ben, live in a world that is calm and lovely, but also incomplete. They look around and see gaps where objects or things could be, but are not. Up above, the gods are sleeping. They are quite proud of the world they have created and spend lots of time bragging about what they have already done. None of them are interested in creating anything new or filling any of the empty spaces. The children though do have the drive to do just that. So they create creatures out of twigs and leaves and dirt. Their ideas start small but quickly grow to a frightening level. Can anything be done once a thing is created?
Almond is not afraid to head right to the strangeness that keeps others at bay. In fact, that’s right where he takes readers: to those dark and dangerous spots that others steer from. Here he comes at that place through a mythological tale of bored gods and sparklingly intense children. From the title alone, you know there is danger ahead, but what a ride it is!
McKean takes those dark ideas and makes them visible to all. Lest we think that Almond is speaking in broad terms and using metaphors, McKean’s art makes it all completely real and tangible. Done in sharp angles and lean faces, there is a marvelous hunger throughout these images that shows in the eyes and postures. It’s such an ideal fit for the story.
Dark and dangerous, this book is not for everyone. Fans of Almond and McKean though should cheer this new book from the team. And once you start, I dare you to be able to look away! Appropriate for ages 8-12.
Reviewed from library copy.