The Legend of Kevin is the first in a new comedy series by the award-winning partnership of Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Its heroes are a roly-poly flying pony (Kevin) and a boy called Max who longs for a pet of his own. It is a comedy and an adventure about friendship and family, and it is very silly indeed.
The story starts in the Outermost West, a fantasy land where Kevin sits in his tree-top nest pondering whether to eat custard creams or bourbons for breakfast. However, this fantasy setting is soon replaced by one much more down to earth, as Kevin is blown in a wild storm onto the balcony of a block of flats in the very ordinary town of Bumbleford. The balcony is owned by Max and his family – a very ordinary family to whom readers will easily relate (mum is a hairdresser, dad is a builder, sister is a teenage Goth!). Max is, naturally, over the moon to have acquired a new, flying pet, but keeping it secret from his parents is a little tricky. He doesn’t have to worry about this for long, however, as pretty soon a torrential flood covers the town in water and everyone has much bigger things to worry about.
The submersion of the town brings with it the most exciting passages of the story, as a daring rescue mission to remove the head teacher from a rooftop, and an underwater sortie to accrue more biscuits from the flooded supermarket, turn Max and his new portly pony into heroes. The flood also brings with it mysterious creatures from the Outermost West, some of whom are recognisable from Reeve and McIntyre’s earlier hit, Oliver and the Seawigs. Fans of that story will be excited by the return of the horrendously mischievous sea monkeys, who cause chaos and carnage that only Max and Kevin can sort out.
Throughout the narrative, the author speaks to the reader directly through humorous asides, which invite the reader to place themselves into the story. This is a welcome addition as the story moves quickly and characters are somewhat underdeveloped, with McIntyre’s brilliant, playful two-colour illustrations doing a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of description and characterisation. As it is an opener to the series, many characters are introduced who, it is clear, will have bigger roles to play in further episodes. This is certainly the case for the ridiculous hamsters, Neville and Beyoncé, who readers will find either hilarious or very irritating!
Kevin and Max’s friendship grows throughout the story and the dilemma of how to maintain a relationship with someone who lives in such an entirely different world from yourself is the most emotive element of the book. There are plenty of signs in this new story that Max and Kevin will have much excitement and funniness to offer in future episodes, and it will be particularly popular by children who like their stories to be as silly and random as possible.