This seemingly whimsical story is far,far more than meets the eye. When Jefferson Ponsonby-Smythe, a young hedgehog, is accused of the brutal murder of his long-time barber, the badger Mr Edgar, he is forced to go on the run with his closest friend, Gilbert the pig. Their mission is to find the real killers-but they have no idea where to start. Then, slowly they begin to acquire clues-a postcard sent by Mr. Edgar to his niece(of whom Jefferson is extremely fond)and Jefferson’s recollection of a car travelling dangerously fast with two villainous types inside it.
The search for further evidence continues as Gilbert gets them both on his cousin’s package tour, with characters described with a deft and entertaining hand. Gilbert and Jefferson’s foray into the Land of the Humans is a rollercaster adventure witnh some upsetting discoveries along the way, not least when Jefferson is compelled to spend a night hiding in an abattoir. It transpires that Mr Edgar was the mastermind behind a group of animal activists and was murdered by the men who Jefferson spotted speeding away from the scene of the crime.
He is captured by the men and is about to be murdered by them when Gilbert and the members of the coach party burst into the flat in which he is being held and save him. This is a riotous and heartwarming finale to the adventure and, in addition, Jefferson is not only elevated from murderer to hero but he also gets his girl.
This book received a Pen award and it is easy to see why. It is both charming and instructive, fast-paced and entertaining-but, most of all, these qualities combine to deliver a powerful message about the brutal slaughter of animals for meat. This is activism in soft but deadly gloves. The delightful illustrations further bring the story to life, giving readers the chance to know and identify with the characters.