Maddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimble Witch
Author: Eric Orchard
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review.
p28 "...cloudsape" should be "...cloudscape."
This is a charming graphic novel for children which tells the curious tale of Maddy Kettle, whose parents, ma and pa Kettle, are kangaroo rats. They apparently ended up that way after an encounter with the Thimble Witch and her horrible spider goblins, which frankly creep me out, but I'm probably just making a sow's ear out of a spider-silk purse, right?
Maddy has a pet spade-foot toad, Ralph, who floats and can talk, but talking animals seem to be the norm in this world. None, of course, are as important as Ralph (although most seem to have a better memory than he does).
Just as maddy is about to announce to her folks a new plan to get them changed back to human form, she discovers that the unexpectedly evil Thimble Witch appears to have has sent in a spider goblin to kidnap both her parents and the toad. Maddy finds herself ejected unceremoniously from the train on which they're traveling through the American west (as far as I can tell).
Maddy is done pussy-footing around now, and so she strikes out bravely across the desert intending upon attacking this mystery. Is it a mystery or a misunderstanding? Either way, Maddy will get to the bottom of it. That's when she runs into a bear, Harry, and a raccoon, Silvio, cloud cartographers who have been stranded by the failure of their balloon transportation (powered by Moon gas!). There's also a snake. And later, vampires, but that's just bats....
On a small point of order, I have to take issue on page twenty-five with the snake asserting that it isn't poisonous. It's never too early to set kids straight on nature and there's nothing more important than understanding it properly, given what we're all doing to the planet. I guess that snakes can be poisonous, that is: they may cause illness or death if eaten, but what I think this little guy was trying to reassure Maddy over, was that it was not venomous - a different thing altogether. I'm just saying!
Anyway, Maddy takes charge and pursues this problem with a relentlessness and a tenacity that's a joy to watch. Nothing deflects her from her purpose. How sad is it that children get a wonderful character like this at that age, and then grow into young adults only to find themselves beset by one limp excuse for a female role model after another?
Eric Orchard I command you to write young-adult novels with strong female characters like Maddy or I'll turn you into a kangaroo rat! Now then, that should fix it. So while we're waiting on the first of those novels coming down the pipeline, please enjoy this excellent children's graphic novel as I did! And note that it is indeed book one of a series, so there will be more. Oh yes, there will be more....