Can you believe that this is a blog post I’ve been waiting around 6 years to write! Probably my most anticipated children’s book release ever, the one that I didn’t even know would ever happen but hoped and wished and willed. So I am really, very, extremely, crazy happy to be sat here now, writing a blog post for Bumble & Snug and the Angry Pirates, written and illustrated by Mark Bradley, and published by Hachette Children’s. But … is this book everything I hoped it would be?
Where do I honestly start writing this? Bumble & Snug feel like old friends. Mark has been drawing this duo for years and years, most likely way before me, or you, or blogs or social media or maybe even dinosaurs! And yet here they are, already fondly loved by so many people, looking different but familiar in wonderful, full neon technicolour comic book form.
Firstly, let me introduce you to Bumble and Snug. et’s start with Bumble, she is a top hat wearing, shape shifting, excitement and adventure loving monster, who enjoys new things, and shiny things, yet she is sometimes, it’s fair to say, a little bit silly.
Snug, is the very best kind of friend, supportive, loving and kind. He’s a smart cookie and his favourite place is the library (that’s a good reason alone to just adore him). He has a more thoughtful approach to life, and together, this duo, like yin and yang, are the ultimate in friendship balance!
In their very first adventure, Bumble and Snug head off for, Snug hopes, a nice little picnic somewhere lovely and relaxing. Of course Bumble, in charge of packing and navigation has some other ideas, or maybe we should call them distractions! The friends find themselves flying completely off course and crash land on a desert island. We all know what this means! X marks the spot, shiny shiny treasure, and of course, pirates!!! Very angry pirates. Can Bumble and Snug help retrieve the lost treasure? Can they work out why Pirates are always so angry? Can they tame the eight legged beast in the deep blue sea? Of course they can! With friendship and enthusiasm and kindness, this daring duo can do anything!
Bumble and Snug is a comic graphic novel style for kids, think, Dog Man, Jamie Smart etc. The comic style turns this book from what is already an entertaining, useful and truly adorable story into an engaging, accessible, hilarious visual treat! Honestly, it’s book eye candy. We’re only just getting to a stage where publishers and educators are really recognising the immense value in comic and graphic novels in reading for pleasure for kids of all ages and abilities. They are so so popular, and a massively important reading format, and this is an example of how to do it well!
Marc’s illustrations will just make your heart fly, with bright bold colours, massive expressions, an abundance of gorgeous little details along with ginormous, in your face emotion! It’s everything that is wonderful about comic art. It’s the combination of carefully thought out graphic design, and illustration working hand in hand to provide a dynamic storytelling experience. Every page is different, engaging and exciting, and you can see how much love and attention to detail Mark and his team have ploughed into this story. I defy you to find a child or adult who doesn’t adore the end result of that hard work and deidcation.
But what of the story? Well, it’s every bit as good as the visuals. Bumble and Snug are characters you will just adore, they have that quintessential feel to them, quirky, and slightly eccentric, yet well defined personalities that have their own charm and warmth which you fall completely in love with. Those of us who can remember, will absolutely see the inspiration behind these characters, masters such as Oliver Postgate, Roger Hargreaves et al. but also created in a unique style that’s bang up to date for kids.
Bumble & Snug and the Angry Pirates is an action adventure story, filled with twists and turns, as you’d want from any tale like this, but it also addresses emotions, with this first book focusing on anger. Anger is a surprisingly complex emotion which can so often be misunderstood. Seen as just antagonistic, or emanating from a fundamentally unpleasant person, yet this is far from the truth, and anger is often a reactive emotion to underlying causes and an angry person is rarely a truly aggressive one. Anger is often just a manifestation of fear, worries or even hurt. Bumble & Snug demonstrate this brilliantly via their use of the “villains” in the book. The angry pirates are frightened of the eight legged beast, and the angry eight legged beast is actually afraid of the dark! Neither of them are mean, or nasty or intending to cause hurt or harm to anyone. A crucial and complex empathy lesson for children explained clearly and wrapped up in a visual treat of a story.
AND if that wasn’t enough!! At the end of this book there is a little page of help for children who may be feeling angry, or who may know someone who is angry and how to deal with that. There’s a page on how to draw Bumble and Snug and a whole spread showing children how to design and draw their own little monsters. It’s such a lovely way to share and encourage creativity, and to show children that they can draw just like the illustrator if they want to! Mark has also created a whole pile of brilliant activity sheets to download via his website.
So, in answer to my own question from the start – “is this book everything I hoped it would be?” How can I not cliche this? It’s EVERYTHING I hoped and more, it’s SUNSHINE in book form. It’s FUN, frolics, adventure, kindness, friendship, enchantment and emotional intelligence all propelled towards you at high speed in bright, bold GORGEOUS graphic novel format! I rarely use caps in my blog posts, but it’s a must right now, such is the love I have for this book. If you’re a teacher, a carer a parent, an adult, a human being a dog, cat or goldfish, get this book and treasure it. And watch out for the sequel … it promises unicorns!!!
Bumble & Snug and the Angry Pirates is out now and available from all good bookshops and libraries. I encourage you to support your local indie bookshops and order from there. You can also support my blog and your local bookshop at the same time by ordering a copy through my Bookshop.org affiliate link. (thank you).
I purchased this copy for myself and to offer my personal review. Thank you for reading this Book Monster blog.