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Book Review: The Castle of Inside Out (David Henry Wilson)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Alma Books

Pages: 150

Release Date: July 21st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lorina, a young schoolgirl, is led by a black rabbit through a wood to a magical land. There she finds a race of green people, who are all overworked, starving and suffering from the toxic fumes billowing out of a nearby castle. She decides to gain access to the castle for the poor green people, and within its walls she meets the “insiders”, selfish creatures who hoard all the resources and treat the outsiders as slaves. Her quest leads her to encounter the bureaurat, the superviper, the farmadillo and, eventually, the awful Piggident himself.Will she be able to save the green people from the cruelty of these “insiders”?

Review:

When I saw this described as Alice in Wonderland meets Animal Farm I knew I had to read it. Regular readers will know I’m pretty Alice obsessed, and though I haven’t read Animal Farm in ages, I do remember enjoying it (this has made me want to read it again soon). I felt like Lorina’s name, and her sister Edith, were a little nod to the original Alice, whose sisters had the same name. Perhaps Lorina in the story is related to the Alice of the Wonderland story…

The book was everything I hoped for and I adored it. The beginning threw me a little at first as it leaps straight into the story without much introduction, but I soon got into it, and as this is explained at the end as well, I think I’ll like it better next time round (I know this is a book I’ll be re-reading!)

Lorina starts a quest to get food for the starving green people who live outside the castle, and to stop the toxic fumes that are killing them. But inside the castle she meets nothing but obstacles, as an array of creatures reason with her as to why they can’t help the green people.

The word play and puns reminded me of all the best bits of Alice in Wonderland – very clever and funny. This helped to keep the story light enough for children while tackling some dark themes: environmentalism, equality and humanity. The corrupt nature of the insiders perfectly captures and parodies government attitudes and actions in a simple way that children can understand, even if they don’t quite get the comparison. It means the book is fun for adults as well!

A highlight of this book was Chris Riddell’s illustrations, which really bring to life the strange creatures that Lorina meets. I loved the secretary bird the most, but they were all beautifully complex and detailed illustrations.

While a children’s book, this is definitely one that can be enjoyed by adults too, and I look forward to reading this one to the Little Moore when he’s a bit older.

Copy of an art exhibit

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