Friday 27 October 2017

ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 27th October 2017 - "The Hippo at the End of the Hall" by Helen Cooper (David Fickling Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is the debut middle grade / chapter book from a lady who has written some of our favourite picture books in the past...
Wow, it's so awesome to finally see this book arrive. We first read "The Hippo at the End of the Hall" way back before the summer, lucky enough to snag an early uncorrected proof.

We were both pretty excited to see Helen Cooper's debut young fiction novel, purely because we've been so dazzled by her picture books. "Pumpkin Soup" and its many sequels, the fantastic "The Baby Who Wouldn't Go To Bed" and our absolute favourite "must-have-book-get-it-in-your-collection-NOW", none other than "The Bear Under the Stairs" which, incidentally seems to share the same deliciously dark atmosphere as the book we're taking a look at today.

In "The Hippo at the End of the Hall" we meet young Ben, who always seems to feel that there must be more to life than the ordinary everyday stuff we all take for granted.

One day he's proved right, when a mysterious invitation arrives, delivered by (of all things) a gang of bees. Instinctively Ben seems to realise that the envelope is for him, even though there's no name or address on it.

Ben discovers that the invitation is to an entirely unexpected destination, a crumbling old museum that he'd never realised was even there. 

The place is old, dusty and full of strange and bewitching creatures. 

A peculiar world of hidden mysteries and, oddest of all, strange family secrets that lay closeted away in the weird old place for years and years. 

Ben also very quickly realises that the place has more than a whiff of dark magic about it too. What will become of him as he begins to explore, and unravels a quest that is his, and his alone. 

"The Hippo at the End of the Hall" was an absolutely blistering read, full of the sort of amazing atmospheric stuff I loved as a kid, harking back to glorious supernatural stuff I'd read under the covers by torchlight. 

Charlotte also loved this, describing it as spooky and quite nerve-jangling at times but un-put-downable (is that a word? It is now!). 

Helen's illustrations throughout are utterly gorgeous too, and fit around the story perfectly. In fact we're now ravenous for more, not just from Helen but from Ben too - there's surely a series afoot?

"The Hippo at the End of the Hall" by Helen Cooper is out on 2nd November 2017 so you won't have long to wait. Published by David Fickling Books (kindly supplied for review)