Hippo Manchester
December 22, 2005

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Books: High in the Clouds, by Paul McCartney, Geoff Dunbar and Philip Ardagh (Dutton Children’s Books, 2005)

A-

Yes, it’s another celebrity-written kids’ book.

But this celebrity pooled his talents with a career writer and a professional illustrator, to come up with a very nice morality tale about freedom and inter-species relations.

Wirral (the squirrel) and Froggo (the frog) lose their home and wander to Megatropolis, where evil boss Gretsch has the local animals in servitude. Wirral and Froggo hightail it to the legendary island of Animalia, where all animals live free, but Gretsch follows and blasts the island with mortar shells, intending to capture and enslave the whole population. The animals return fire with meager ammo (coconuts and broom handles), but then some whales trap Gretsch’s boat in a cargo net, and Ratsy the rat, Gretsch’s captive, shouts out the password to Gretsch’s factory gates, which Wirral radios to a pal back at the factory, who, through the bars of her in-house jail cell, relays the info to Alfredo the weightlifting flea, who types in the password, freeing the animals of Megatropolis.

Who immediately set sail for new lives in Animalia, where they hold a big celebration and sing the Animalian anthem, “We All Stand Together.” I imagine it sounds kind of like “The Long and Winding Road.”

Behind the glaring “be kind to animals” message is a good adventure story and strong fantastical cartoon illustrations. It’s appropriate for a wide age range, because it’s long and involved enough to keep older kids busy reading it for themselves, but colorful and fun enough to be read in chunks to a younger audience over time.

— Lisa Parsons