My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is such a gorgeous middle grade adventure story. I love the design of the book, the lovely silhouette illustrations of the animals and the map. Plus the opening setup at Spectrum hall, where we meet Kester and we’re not exactly sure what’s going on.
There’s a great meeting scene with a scrabble board which works really well as a graphic feature of the text. And it’s clever how Kester uses it communicate with Polly, because he can’t talk to humans, only animals. Then I loved how it was reused later in the plot in another way.
The characters are very distinct personalities too – the horrible adults – and the animals each with their own quirk. I loved the General – the opinionated Cockroach, and the White Pigeon, who is always saying the opposite to the rest of his gang. The villain Captain Skulldiss is so brilliantly drawn – like a cross between Herr Flick and the Childcatcher – he actually made my skin crawl reading his first appearance.