December 22, 2005
in the Clouds, by Paul McCartney, Geoff Dunbar and Philip Ardagh (Dutton
Children’s Books, 2005)
Yes, it’s another celebrity-written kids’ book.
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.
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.