First sighting

There’s life in the old tropes yet …

Just as a blues singer who “woke up this morning” can still find a new and different way of looking at the world through the old twelve bars, so Mr Phigg finds original and distinctive life in the classic elements of children’s literature – a magical friend, hidden doorways and adventures with talking animals.

It adds ingenious gadgetry, scintillating wordplay – and what may be the most bizarre cast of supporting characters ever assembled in a single book, including a rebellious adolescent sheep, a repressed Brazilian zebra and a forgetful 412-year old cavalier.

Jessica and Harriet are two young sisters who live with their parents in Brighton. A character their father told stories about starts to appear in their lives and draws them into a series of strange and often hilarious adventures.

Jessica is the elder. She is thoughtful, with a tendency to the dramatic, and likes to try to take charge of the boisterous Harriet, who never misses the opportunity to ask a question – or to tease her sister.

Mr Phigg is enigmatic: the possessor of a silver key which opens doors in all sorts of unlikely places, he clearly knows a great deal. But he pretends to know a lot more – and most of his ingenious plans involve making things up as he goes along. He somehow gets away with it. We always see and hear what Jessica and Harriet do, and that’s never quite the whole story…

Some of the action takes place in the Greyworld we know, some in a more colourful parallel reality. A first collection of eight stories introduces a number of recurring characters and concepts, but the stories are essentially free-standing.

The stories should appeal to the 9-12 age group, both girls and boys – and they are accessible to youthful adults too.

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