High in the Clouds by Paul McCartney, Geoff Dunbar and Philip Ardagh is a beautiful and explosive parable of friendship, adventure, and ecological awareness.
Paul McCartney's lifelong interest in children's storytelling grew out of his childhood love of classic Disney. He has created a number of animated films in collaboration with Geoff Dunbar, including Rupert and the Frog Song, which won a BAFTA for best animated short film and became the bestselling short video of the year. His recent animated releases have included Daumier's Law, which won a BAFTA for best short animated film, Tropic Island Hum, and Tuesday. Philip Ardagh's best-selling Eddie Dickens trilogy started with Awful End, continued with Dreadful Acts and is soon to be topped off by Terrible Times. Currently living as a full-time writer, with a wife and two cats in a seaside town somewhere in England, he has been - amongst other things - an advertising copywriter, a hospital cleaner, a (highly unqualified) librarian, and a reader for the blind.
Marking McCartney's children's book debut, this playfully meandering tale in which good triumphs over evil was inspired by Tropical Island Hum (2004), an animated film on which the singer/songwriter and Dunbar, the animator, collaborated. McCartney here teams up with Ardagh (the Eddie Dickens trilogy) to create a fanciful, conversational narrative starring Wirral the squirrel, whose mother is a storyteller. Wirral's favorites of his mother's stories are set in Animalia, a tropical island where creatures live "without a care in the world." Bulldozers soon destroy idyllic Woodland, and Wirral's mother is crushed by a felled tree. Her final words to Wirral are to seek Animalia, sending him on a classic quest. In grimy Megatropolis, Wirral finds Gretsch, the "hairless ape" responsible for the Woodland's demise. When the hero learns of Gretsch's plan to obliterate Animalia, he sails off with his pal Froggo in the amphibian's hot-air balloon to find the island and warn its residents. Some adult asides are thrown in for good measure (citydweller Ratsy introduces himself saying, "You may have heard of my dad, Papa Ratsy?... The photographer?"), and some youngsters may be troubled by a few oversimplifications (are all humans bad, since Gretsch, a human, wishes to destroy nature?) and dangling questions (why does Froggo have a wooden leg? why do the Animalia inhabitants trust Gretsch with the care of their young at book's end?). But many will enjoy the happy ending as well as Dunbar's electric-hued energy-charged cartoon art with its 3-D quality and cast of eccentric animal characters sporting outlandish outfits and exaggerated facial expressions. 500,000 first printing. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"'Young audiences will delight in the clever wordplay and smartly - drawn comic characters.' Independent"
Gr 2-4-McCartney joins the ranks of celebrity authors with his first children's book. Wirral the squirrel sets off to find Animalia, a tropical animal sanctuary. He knows of it from his mother, who is crushed to death when bulldozers begin mowing down the Woodland. With her dying breath, she urges him to find the fabled island. His quest takes him to Megatropolis, a loud, polluted city, where he sees animals imprisoned in factories and learns of a plot to destroy Animalia. With the help of his friends Froggo and Wilhamina, Wirral finds the island and leads the animals of the Woodland and Megatropolis to a happy, if predictable, end. Ardagh's writing style and humor are evident, although some of the jokes fall flat. The cartoon illustrations resemble animation cels reduced to fit the book's pages, with the result that occasionally Wirral and his friends become lost in the surrounding scenery. Due to its length and vocabulary, the book will appeal to children who are ready for long read-alouds or beginning chapter books.-Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, OR Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.