Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Milway
Pigsticks hasn’t done anything with his life yet, unlike his very distinguished ancestors. So he decides that he will travel to the Ends of the Earth but unlike his forepig, he will make it back alive. Pigsticks quickly realizes that he will need an assistant, someone to carry all of his gear and cook. Everyone in town came for an interview, but Pigsticks could not find the right person for the job. That is until Harold the hamster showed up with a misdelivered package. Harold wasn’t sure he wanted to be Harold’s assistant, but after much negotiation involving how many cakes would be brought on the journey (three of them) Harold agreed. The two set off the next day, fording rivers, marching through jungles, crossing frail bridges across deep ravines, and then entering a vast desert before climbing an immense snowy mountain. It’s a journey filled with mishaps and perils, most of which befall Harold, on their way to the elusive Ends of the Earth.
Milway has created a very clever early reader that will have new readers giggling right along. Pigsticks is a wonderfully inattentive character, never noticing the various perils that Harold is facing along the way. One might think be would come off very negatively, but he actually is a likeable character throughout, just a little self-absorbed. Harold on the other hand is the voice of sanity on the trip, the one who sees danger ahead, but also the one doomed to not be listened to. Their odd relationship works well in this book, creating very funny moments with just the right tone and humor for the age group.
Milway’s art is clever and cartoony. He uses the art to fill in much of the story and provides art throughout at just the right amount to make the book appealing to new readers who are daunted by full-text pages. The art adds to the zany humor of the text and further builds the dynamic between the two characters.
Funny, clever and cake-filled, this quest to the Ends of the Earth is sure to “end” up as a new reader favorite. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from digital copy received from Candlewick Press and NetGalley.