Illustrator: Chris Riddell
Series : Part of the “Far Flung Adventures” Not so much a series as a set of related books that can be read separately too.
In Short: Corby Flood is travelling with her family aboard the decrepit cruise ship the SS Euphonia. There is plenty to keep Corby’s mind off the new school waiting for her at the journey’s end. Who is the man from Cabin 21? Why is Mr Times New Roman, leader of the Brotherhood of Clowns, in such a foul temper? And above all – what is the source of the saddest song echoing out of the cargo hold?
What I thought:
I loved this book. It is simply crammed with fabulous characters and places. The story flows effortlessly along, and is told as much by Chris Riddell’s drawings as by Paul Stewart’s words. The text is interspersed with little drawings and diagrams. Here are some pages showing Corby’s brothers playing one of their anarchic ball games:
Corby is a great character. Her father has endured a mysterious “disappointment” and refuses to get out of bed. Her mother is good natured but rather dotty, and no help at all when Corby get’s on the wrong side of the very sinister Mr Times New Roman and his fellow Clowns.
Every few pages, we see a double page spread from Corby’s edition of the “Hoffendinck’s Guide” – which tells us about the fabulous destinations that the SS Euphonia no longer visits, with annotations by Corby.
The example below features the “Towns of the Dalcretian Coast”, such as Lissari with its famous hanging taverns and suspended kitchens. Corby has used the opposite page to sketch the various members of the Brotherhood of Clowns:
Another important character is the SS Euphonia herself. Once a marvel of cutting edge engineering and automated luxury, she has become a decrepit and unreliable old boat.
Sometimes Chris Riddell’s drawing reminds me a bit of Dr Suess. For example, here is Corby in her amazing self tidyng cabin, before and after pressing that crucial button:
The drawings at times almost Gothic in their intensity. Here is the Captain, ever depressed, dressed up as King Neptune for the “Half Way There Party”:
This is one of those books that you want to share with other people, reading bits out loud and pointing out the pictures. I wish I could have read this when I was a little girl! But I enjoy it just as much as a not quite grown up grown-up.