David Fickling Books (8+)
Clever and slightly cynical Fidge is nearly 11 when she is abruptly thrown into the bizarre world of her little sister Minnie’s favourite story. The Wimbley Woos, colourful creatures who speak only in rhyme, live under the iron paw of evil dictator, Wed Wabbit. With only a band of sentient toys and her awful cousin Graham to help her, Fidge must solve a series of increasingly ludicrous puzzles in order to go home. If she fails they will be stuck in the land of Wimbley Woos forever and, back in the real world, Minnie will die.
Playful use of language and sharp, satirical humour abound in this vibrant novel. The interplay between danger and comedy is skilfully handled, resulting in a vivid focus on play and the inner imaginative world of childhood. The richly drawn cast of characters are depicted perfectly; individual personalities are slowly revealed and, as the story unfolds, experiences allow them to develop satisfyingly. The author demonstrates an innovative use of language through the dialogue of the toys; from banal verse to loud, authoritarian speech, a rhythm is established that makes the unreal world seem very real. Wit, wisdom and lashings of imagination make this a rich reading experience.
Lissa Evans has a background in comedy. Following a medical degree, she changed careers to become a comedy producer for radio and TV; her credits include Father Ted, Room 101 and Have I Got News for You. Her first book for children, Small Change for Stuart, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the 2011 Costa Children’s Book Award. Her books for adults include Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was longlisted for the Baileys Prize and made into a recent film, Their Finest, starring Bill Nighy. She lives in London.