Updated: Jul 18, 2019
Review By The Wild Book Spy
My investigation of this children’s novel was prompted by bold recommendations from Waterstone’s staff both in Edinburgh and Milton Keynes, (my missions carry me far and wide as you know). Naturally I had to check it out and apply some scrutiny.
The over-arching narrative involves a nine-year-old boy with the unlikely name of Cymbeline Igloo and his need to discover why his Mother has never allowed him to go swimming. So this part of the narrative operates as something of a thriller as clues are pieced together from the unravelling of secrets. However, the under-story, as it were is about love, friendship, bullying, loyalty, family and the need to grow up a little – a heady brew!
“Me in a swimming race. When I had never, not once, EVER been swimming, and with someone a foot taller than me whose parents signed him up for every sport going?What – bangheadondesk – was – bangheadondesk – I – thinking?”
The author has chosen a first person voice that is very effective and allows the reader an immediacy with Cim’s thought processes which is both engaging, convincing and often humorous. There is a lightness of touch, therefore, which prevents the values explored from descending into preachiness. As the story progresses Cim’s navigation through his many challenges draws the reader in and makes him an easily likeable figure to identify with. The same is true of his friend Veronique who becomes an important and strong character in the unfolding and exciting trail of clues.
Thoughtful consideration by yours truly concludes that this book would be enjoyed by either gender and has appeal for everyone. Having a male protagonist and a strong female secondary character further amplifies the story’s reach and balance and ends with a twist that, even I, with all my investigative experience had not suspected!
A splendid read