Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City
Peanut Jones is in trouble. Her dad is missing and everyone else thinks he has abandoned them. She's been moved from a school she loved to the strict, science-focused St Hubert's, where doodling gets you detention and art (Peanut's favourite subject) is frowned upon. Plus her mum is trying to move on with her horrible boss. When Peanut uncovers a secret pencil with astonishing powers, she's transported to a place where art isn't just discouraged - it's illegal. Can she save Chroma - and the world - from Mr White and find out what happened to her dad, armed only with a few contraband art supplies, or will the world become artless forever?
This book is so much fun! I loved all the characters, but especially the brave and determined Little Bit, who isn't afraid to befriend crocodiles and refuses to be sent home when their quest grows dangerous. The slow friendship between Peanut and Rockwell was really well done - a lot of middle grade novels include characters without friends and have friendship as one of their main themes, but it was refreshing to have a scenario where the protagonist is trying to not make friends because she's in a new place that she wants to leave, rather than because she's never had them. Between Rockwell and Peanut there's also a nice balance between art and science - two subjects which are often set in opposition to each other. The events of the novel show that this couldn't be further from the truth, with art and science coming together in some crucial illustrations.
I loved all of the different locations within Chroma. Each was brilliantly defined, from heroic encounters in comic book styled Strip (which now has me questioning my every! exclamation! mark!) and the adorable Cute Corner (which was my personal favourite and featured a brilliant twist.) There were plenty of links to real life artists and an exploration of different art styles - including a clever glossary at the end. Each style is celebrated for their own unique perspective, with no kind of art presented as better or more worthy than another. The key is to create - it doesn't matter how.
I read the NetGalley version for this review (thank you Macmillan for adding it to the app!) but I have a copy of the signed Waterstones edition hidden away to give my daughter for Christmas. She loves the Draw with Rob activity books and I know she's going to really enjoy reading this. I think it will inspire a lot of drawing over the Christmas break.
The limited colour pallet worked really well and the illustrations are as brilliant as you would expect. This middle grade novel is a visual treat throughout - perfect for readers looking for longer stories but who don't want to leave pictures behind (and why should they, when there are books like this available?)
Peanut Jones is a celebration of art and creativity, and I can't wait for book two.
Thank you Macmillan for letting me review Peanut Jones via NetGalley