Mokie and Bik Go to Sea
By Wendy Orr
Henry Holt and Company
On shelves August 5, 2008
Today is Review-a-book-way-too-early Day. I’ll make it up to you tomorrow, I promise.
Wendy Orr is a woman whose star has risen. Consider the evidence. Her book Nim’s Island becomes a big-budget film with Jodie Foster. Her book Mokie and Bik is widely hailed as hailable (widely). And what’s more she manages to wrangle up-and-coming Ezra Jack Keats Award winning illustrator Jonathan Bean into creating the pictures for the latter book. 2008 is now her year of sequels. With Nim at Sea providing fans with a prompt Nim follow-up, she’s also cast her Aussie eyes upon the Mokie and Bik world as well. Mokie and Bik Go to Sea isn’t going to shock the socks off of anyone who has had the pleasure of reading the original. It just has the same wonderful wordplay. The same free-flowing energy, upbeat characters, and mischievous shenanigans. Even if you somehow missed the first, this early chapter book makes for a brilliant bedtime readaloud. That is, if your tongue is truly up to the challenge.
In true Pippi Longstocking fashion, Mokie and Bik’s father returned at the end of their last book to sail their boat the Bullfrog out upon the illy-ally-o. Their pets have increased from the faithful sheepdog Laddie and the turtle Slow to include a Newfoundland pup with the ever-so accurate name of Waggles. Getting everything shipshape in time for the illy-ally-o isn’t as easy as it looks, though, and before the twins know it they’re underfoot, overboard, rowboating with a whale, and accidentally on an unexpected boat ride all alone quicker than you can say “jiggly heap”.
Sometimes language tastes good. It just does. It’s a delicious sensation to say out loud something like, “Waggles frogleaped off the log, across the beach, and down the wharf skid skad skedaddle after the big ginger hisser.” That’s Orr’s gift to us here. She gives us words we know and words we don’t know and just swirls them all together in the best possible series of combinations. Common words replace commoner words, and so we get a sentence like, “Mokie was still paddling and swallowing big mouthfuls of harbor.” And though I’ve a low spoonerism saturation point, I even liked that the twins’ mother drove a “botormike”. I just did.
It’s funny that in a book as high-spirited and delightful as this that you never get the sense that the twins’ absent parents and distracted nanny have anything but the greatest affection for their twins. They’re always busy, but I’m sure that that’s how parents feel to a lot of kids. Constantly involved in other activities and only offering a swipe here and there at the children when they’ve gotten a touch too much underfoot.
Again, it’s much with the same and I’m sure you could bottle Mokie and Bik and its sequel together and neither would be the worse for wear. For those of you desperate for delightful early chapter books, Orr’s pair is fun from tail to tip. A great book to give to anyone that claims that language is never used to charm and delight in children’s books anymore. Or to give to anyone, really.
On shelves August 5th.