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Months ago, Amazon Vine review programme offered me a book by Philip Reeves and Sarah McIntyre to review called: Oliver and the Seawigs. I thought it would be just the thing to entertain my son, and snapped it up. It was most excellent and received a glowing review from both of us, which is here on Making Them Readers somewhere.

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Shortly afterwards I found a second book by them in my library called; Cakes in Space. I took it home to an equally rapturous reception, so when Pugs of the Frozen North popped up on Amazon Vine I snatched their hand off.

As ever, with any book I receive to review that I have not bought myself, all opinions are my own, and I am scrupulously honest about what I receive.

Pugs of the Frozen North, in my opinion, is the best of the collaboration between Reeves and McIntyre so far. It has Reeves’ trademark humour and wit, paired with the exceptional illustrations by McIntyre. Each complement the other beautifully.

This book tells the story of Shen, a cabin boy on a sailing ship. He has no family except the crew, and has never known anything but a life at sea. On this particular voyage he is in charge of 66 pug dogs that they are taking home after a successful expedition. Suddenly the weather changes overnight, and the ship becomes trapped in the ice of a true winter. The crew heartlessly abandon Shen and the pugs and he has to make his way across the frozen wastes alone.

Nearing the end of his resources he comes across a small settlement and the P of Ice, where he meets Sika, a young girl who dreams of completing the Race to the Top of the World to meet the Snow Father. First to meet him wins their heart’s desire. Sika’s heart’s desire is to make her grandfather, a previous competitor in the race, well again. He is reaching the end of his life and Sika wants to save him.

Shen and Sika set off on a madcap adventure with the sixty six pugs and a rickety sledge, determined not to give up, despite encountering fifty types of snow, yetis, evil competitors and the kraken.

This is laugh out loud funny in places. I particularly loved the yetis, and the pugs. The end has a poignancy to it which actually made me quite tearful, and was a really lovely touch in an otherwise preposterously silly story.

I highly recommend this for independent readers, both boys and girls aged 7-10. The fantastic illustrations and short chapters also make it something you can share with younger readers as a bed time story over several nights. Start with this book and then go back and read the other books by Reeves and McIntyre.

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