Beyond the Deepwoods
Authors: Paul Stewart & Chriss Riddell
Reading Level: 4th to 6th
Publisher: David Fickling Books/ Random House
Edition: Hardcover, 2004 (1998 in UK)
So. I couldn’t wait to finish this book! Not that I was so thrilled by it that I wanted to know how it all pans out. Nope. I basically could guess (there are quite a bit of not very subtle hints throughout the book) how Twig’s journey is going to end. I simply wanted the book to end so I didn’t have to keep reading chapter after chapter after chapter of descriptions of some form of gross, fantastic creatures who put Twig in mortal danger and, of course, from whom Twig eventually gets away. I even guessed the Gloamglozer part (which just shows how jaded an adult reader can be when reading a children’s book.) Their existence serves little to actually advance the storyline but a strong sense of self-indulgent from the co-authors/illustrators.
The writing is solid and fine. The illustrations are definitely fabulous and incredibly detailed: when I skimmed the creatures chapters, they tell me exactly what happens and how each creature looks like. Very helpful indeed.
To be absolutely fair, there are some good chapters and a few unexpected turns: the Banderbear’s demise is definitely sad. I can see young readers who enjoy imagining their own creatures find great examples and kindred spirits in the authors. I only wish that the binging of “creature presentation” is either curbed a bit, or serves some better purposes: as part of his self-discovery and growth, maybe? Time passes in the story, but the sense of Twig remains the same from the first page to the last. Even with the loss of his beloved companion, I do not feel that Twig has altered his sense of the world or of himself. It just got tiresome: like eating too much at a passable buffet dinner, just because I have paid and started the meal, not because I savor the many dishes.
I wonder if the following volumes, for this is the first of The Edge Chronicles series, are better or does the super-indulgence continue?