The House that Sailed Away by Pat Hutchins was one of my favourite books as a child. I read it over and over again down the years and never tired of it. Then I read it to all my children when they were little. Now my son has read it to me.
It is a great delight to have one of your favourite books read to you by one of your favourite people.
The book tells the story of Morgan, his mum, dad, granny, baby brother and their cat, and how one day, when the rain in London is particularly torrential, their end of terrace house tears itself away from the neighbouring house and the house bobs down the high street and then off to sea.
On their journey they meet pirates, and cannibals, and find buried treasure, and all sorts of wonderful adventures befall them.
Not only is it page turningly exciting, but it is also very, very funny. My favourite character is grandma, who spends half her life drunk on tonic wine, and the rest of it smashing cut throat pirates about the head with cast iron frying pans. She is a work of comic genius.
The book is quite old fashioned in places. Grandma’s way of speech and her turns of phrase may have to be explained to children, but they will get the gist quick enough. They are aided throughout by splendid line drawings by the author which really bring the whole book to life. My son was as entranced by them as I had been when I was a child.
This is a perfect transitional book. Although it is 150 pages, the text is easy to read and nicely broken up by the illustrations, the chapters are quite short and the story just pulls you along.
We loved it. It works for boys and girls and we recommend it for children aged seven to twelve if they’re reading alone, and five and up if you’re reading it to them.