Archer B. Helmsley longs for adventure. But how can he have an adventure when he can’t even leave his house?
Archer B. Helmsley has grown up in a house full of oddities and treasures collected by his grandparents, the famous explorers. Archer longs for grand adventures but ever since his grandparents went missing on an iceberg, his mother barely lets him leave the house. So, along with his best friends, Adélaïde L. Belmont and Oliver Grub, Archer forms a plan to get out of the house and set off on a grand adventure with crocodiles and parachutes and danger. It's a good plan. Well, it's not bad, anyway. But nothing goes quite as they expected…
I had a really good feeling about this book when it arrived. You only need to look at the physical appearance of it and you know that the publishing company have pulled out all the stops. It is really special to handle and lovely to look through. The cover is fantastic and inside the colour illustrations are exquisite; a delight to behold. The images are bold and use a good palette of autumnal colours with some delightful blues for added measure. The images are somewhat quirky and very engaging; I loved them all.
Interestingly, there are also some small black-and-white illustrations peppered through the chapters, which work really well. They give the reader a great sense of the amazing adventure that will soon unfold. What is particularly impressive, is that the author has produced these illustrations himself!
This book felt special right from the very first page. It is a lovely poetic look at children being children, living in an adult world and yearning for adventure. It leaves a warm feeling inside as the reader bonds with the plot and the unlikely trio of characters. Their friendships will make you smile from a tiger's head to a crocodile's toe. The characters will pirouette into your lives with such uniqueness and hold a special place in your own heart.
The book is born out of wild imagination and leads the reader on a journey of fantasy escapism that everyone will love, from nine to hundred and nine. It's very witty and I love the subtleness of the
humour; slightly offbeat which works at all age levels, in my opinion.
You'll find yourself being firmly whisked into a world that is rich in detail capturing the essence of New York City - magical and enchanting - where people's lives are played out in technicolour. Even though it might not be set there, it makes me want to go back. It's very cleverly written, especially from a debut author. It is well thought out and worded beautifully; thoroughly entertaining.
This book will become a timeless classic which is full of pure eventfulness just like Brian Selznick and Blue Baliett; wonderful books that will keep you reading all night long. It's pure silliness and will soon have you talking to a range of stuffed animals. With a giddy sense of excitement and a touch of mystery, this is my favourite book of the year, so far. It's a visual feast for the eyes and the brain; an exciting new talent to watch.
I would love to see it as a film one day soon, I hope!
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (UK) (8 Oct. 2015) and Greenwillow Books (USA) (September 29, 2015)
Authors web site: http://www.nicholasgannon.com/main.html