Pugs of the Frozen North is the latest collaboration between the energetic co authors Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Their illustrated novel for younger readers is a fun and ice filled race - think whacky races ... with pugs.
Shen is a cabin boy on the Lucky Star. Unfortunately this ship turns out to be not so lucky. Caught in a mysterious sudden winter with the ice tightening its grip on the ship, everyone must abandon ship ... quickly. With everyone keen to save only themselves, luckily Shen's quick thinking ensures the Lucky Star's most unusual cargo - the 66 pugs - are rescued too.
Stranded on a frozen ocean Shen must find help, which he discovers in the shape of Sika. Sika tells Shen about this mysterious 'once-in-a-lifetime winter', a True Winter during which the Great Northern Race takes place. Teams gather from all over the world to take part in the perilous race to the Snowfather, where he promises to grant the wish of the first person to arrive. Sika has listened to her ailing Grandpa tell wonderful tales of this race, she desperately wants to take part - how wonderful it would be for the Snowfather to grant her wish ... to allow Grandpa to take part in the race one more time. Shen? Well, he has nothing else to do at the moment and just maybe the Snowfather could help him get home?
Will the 66 pugs be up to the job of pulling Grandpa's old sled all that way?
Reeve and McIntyre's illustrations and narrative take their readers on a perilous, and very entertaining, journey featuring noodle loving yetis, a fierce Kraken and some rather unusual types of snow. And then there are the other contestants in the race to watch out for too.
The narrative is wonderfully fast paced, filled with delightful twists and turns as Shen, Sika and 66 pugs race through the frozen North. As in their previous collaborations, McIntyre focuses on a limited colour palette, black/grey and turquoise. With McIntyre using opacity to its full advantage this combination echoes the icy, magical world just wonderfully. Reeve's quirky range of characters are brought to life by McIntyre's lively illustrations, Helga Hammerfest and those yetis are particularly great!
Pugs of the Frozen North is a fabulous adventure novel. McIntyre and Reeve have done it again!