Billy Shaman is used to being left behind by his parents, as they selfishly spend his summer holidays pursuing their own interests, whilst he is abandoned in various odd places with strangers looking after him. This year, he has been left in a house/museum previously owned by some famous scientist or something, he doesn’t really know or care, but the summer ahead does not look like fun to Billy. Not only are there a long list of rules and things he can’t do or touch, but he’s starting to think that the house he’s staying in is haunted; Billy is sure that there is a giant breathing in the attic above him at night. Miserable & scared, Billy is wandering through the nearby woods, when he stumbles across a large rock, which is actually a giant tortoise from the Galapagos Islands, named Charles Darwin, after the famous explorer who brought him to the UK and also owned the house Billy is staying in.
Charles D (the tortoise and narrator of the story) tells Billy more about how he came to be here and of all the amazing discoveries that his namesake made as he travelled the world. He also explains more about the house and contents, including the carved Inuit necklace that Billy had already admired. Later that night, unsure if he asleep or awake, Billy is visited by a magical white fox and led into an icy blizzard, which transports him through time and space to an Arctic world, where he meets Ahnah, the original owner of the Inuit necklace, along with her shape-shifting grandmother and Pytheas, a mysterious Greek explorer. Billy discovers previously unknown powers, as he realises he must restore the collected treasures within the museum to their rightful owners.
The Rage of the Sea Witch is the first in a new series blending fun adventure and fantasy with true facts, bringing the past to life in an original and engaging way for young readers to discover key elements from our history.
At the end of the book, the author also shares more details about the true figures within the story, enabling more opportunities for discussion and further exploration of this time in history. The black and white illustrations throughout the book are the perfect accompaniment, adding many touches of humour from the author/illustrator.
The next book in the series is to be set in ancient China and I look forward to reading it later this year.