Wednesday 29 June 2011

Captain Congo and the Klondike Gold

Captain Congo and the Klondike Gold by Ruth Starke & Greg Holfeld (Working Title Press)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 978 1 92150427 3
Reviewed by Jenny Mounfield

Fans of the previous two Congo titles: Captain Congo and the Crocodile King (which made history as the first graphic novel to be shortlisted by the Children’s Book Council of Australia) and Captain Congo and the Maharaja’s Monkey will be more than happy with Congo and Pug’s latest baddie-busting adventure. This time the impeccably mannered Congo and his faithful penguin buddy Pug are off to the north-west Canadian wilds to investigate ghostly goings-on in a gold camp. Could the strange lights and monster sightings be otherworldly, or is there a more earthly explanation? Naturally our intrepid pair will get to the bottom of the mystery—that is if they survive the train ride and the pulverising rapids.

This book—indeed this series—is an interesting mix of Scooby-do meets James Bond, with a dash of Get Smart thrown in for added flavour. The humour is by far the stand out here and it translates perfectly through Holfeld’s illustrations. On which score I simply must mention the last page which contains a full-page illustration with a laugh out loud punch line that is sheer genius. (But don’t be tempted to skip ahead; the joke will mean nothing without having read the story.)

There is, however, one gripe I have concerning this, and the previous two titles and it’s a design issue: the italicised text. Italics are generally harder on the eye than other fonts, even without the poor vision I am afflicted with, and since these books are aimed at reluctant readers, I can’t help but feel a more eye-friendly font would have been preferable.

With a chuckle on every page, Congo and Pug’s latest mission will prove a hit with kids and adults alike. Old-fashioned skulduggery, adventure and wit—there really is nothing like it.

Ruth Starke has authored over 20 titles and has far too many accolades to name. With his roots in animation and cartooning, Grey Holfeld has illustrated a number of picture books. His first, The Perfect, Pet was nominated for a Crchton Award.

Jenny Mounfield is the author of three novels for kids, her most recent title being: The Ice-cream Man (Ford St). She has been reviewing for Buzz Words since ’06 and also contributes to The Compulsive Reader:  

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