Saturday 1 July 2023

Hello Twigs: Surprise

Hello Twigs: Surprise by Andrew McDonald & Ben Wood (Hardie Grant) Paperback, Junior Fiction, Graphic Novel RRP $9.99 9781761211980

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood have created a captivating new funny series for kids. Hello Twigs: Surprise  is a graphic novel series for young readers. Each book is 48 pages with full-colour illustrations and simple text that can be read aloud. The stories follow a group of twigs and one stump as they explore creativity, nature, emotions, and friendship. Heart and humour are at the core of every book they’ve co-created. The world is big when you’re a twig!

Hello Twigs: Surprise focuses upon Red, a very wild twig who loves surprising his friends. They don’t appreciate his unexpected surprises because they’re busy setting up a snail zoo. Can Red understand that sometimes it’s best to plan surprises to create the most impact?

Mc Donald is the author of the bestselling Real Pigeons junior fiction series. He charms and surprises young readers with his impactful and insightful short sentences. They pack a lot of punch easily and succinctly while allowing the illustrations to shine. All twigs are wild. But some twigs are REALLY wild. The opening sentences immediately entice engagement and a page turn. The dialogue sings as it speaks directly to the child reader. ‘I’ll try giving Stump a surprise,’ he says. ‘He likes a good laugh!

It makes you wonder what Red is going to do next. The heart-centered and funny characters are well developed, distinct and unique even though they’re twigs. Red loves surprising the others but also wants to make their world more fun. ‘I will give them better SURPRISES!’ says Red. ‘Then they will jump and laugh and be less serious. Red’s character growth from the beginning to the end is satisfying and makes total sense to a child reader.

Wood’s bright and happy illustrations give such personality and strength to the characters. He is the other half of this award-winning best-selling team. A child reader will feel that the twigs are just like real people. The eyes and facial expressions are captivating. Wood’s cleverly created character movement and play splashes out boldly from every page showing his depth and experience as an illustrator. Red believably jumps, sneaks, flings, and shocks. The other twigs respond with surprise and annoyance in a perfectly created world that is totally believable. I can even picture a child talking to their very own imaginary twig friend.

Hello Twigs: Surprise is a true early reader for kids six and older who want to laugh along with characters that go through things that real kids do. The key to early reading is the want to read and this book creates just that. This book and the others in the series are sure to appeal to not only kids but parents and teachers too. 

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