'Pumpkin Soup' and 'A Pipkin of Pepper' are two of my all time favourite picture books so I was delighted to see that their author/ illustrator had written a novel. And what a treat it is!
Helen Cooper spins a tale full of appealing characters set against a vividly described background. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it so I will just say it is about a little boy called Ben and his involvement with the mysterious Gee Museum.
Lovingly illustrated throughout, the book is beautifully produced and gorgeous to look at. The pages are peppered with black and white drawings- each a work of art- which add to the story and further engage the reader.
But there is much more to this book than the fabulous illustrations. The story is quirky and original, combining folk tales and magic, the wonder of museums and family love- and secrets!
The story is beautifully written, using a rich and varied vocabulary, making it a delight to read.
Beyond the mud and the tangled wasteland was the wood. Ben spotted a clock tower amongst those February bare trees. He sped towards it and found a melancholy building that looked as though no one had visited it for a long time. Leaves were strewn on the drive and had drifted on to the steps. Paint peeled from the woodwork. He pulled up at the front railings, and gazed doubtfully at the blind windows and the sodden, cheese-coloured facade. Was this it?
A wonderful story, this is a title I shall be suggesting for next year's awards!
The Hippo at the End of the Hall Helen Cooper
David Fickling Books ISBN: 978-1910989753