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Hugo Pepper: Far-Flung Adventures    by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell order for
Hugo Pepper
by Paul Stewart
Order:  USA  Can
David Fickling Books, 2007 (2006)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

'Once upon a time there were two reindeer herders, Harvi and Sarvi Runter-Tun-Tun ... They lived in a cabin deep in the ice forests of the Frozen North ... where the summers are short and the winter's very, very long'. They milked reindeer in the summer months under the midnight sun, and beneath the winter's ice moon, and made exceptional cheese sought out by people far and wide, like Moose-milk mozzarella and elk gorgonzola. The most famous of all - red nose brie - was Queen Rita's favorite, served to guests aboard the S.S. Euphonia.

Each evening the Runter-Tun-Tun's placed special treats outside the cabin door for the Snow Giants, who in turn left gifts for the generous herders. One morning, the Tun-Tun's sighted a pair of bright blue eyes looking up at them from a swaddling blanket. Harvi searched far and wide for the babe's parents but only found a sled containing a gentleman's boot, and a lady's glove. Delighted to have a child of their own, Harvi and Sarvi called him by the name knitted into the baby's cardigan - Hugo Pepper.

Ten and a half years later, Hugo discovers the sled behind a shed on the Tun-Tun property. His adoptive parents tell him how the snow giants left him at their cabin door, and of their efforts to find the sled owners. There is sadness for the Tun-Tun's as Hugo decides to find out where he came from. The sled is loaded with provisions for his journey, as the chariot's magical Compass of the Heart is set on Home. An engine noise sounds in the foggy sky of Harbour Heights - 'Phut! Phut! Splutter-splutter!' as Hugo falls to earth in the worn blanket, landing in the path of two ladies near Sleeping Horse Lane.

Mermaids Daisy and Lily Neptune take him into their care. They knew his parents, Phineas and Phyllida Pepper, who set off years before on a journey in search of knowledge, but never returned. Hugo is told of his ancestry, including notorious pirate Brimstone Kate, whose hidden treasure trove is yet to be found. The lad is introduced to many townsfolk who were once friends of his lost parents. Lempek Dalle, a shepherd extraordinaire who tends extremely small, light-as-a-cloud sheep about the 'size of guinea pigs', opened a shop with his beloved Meena. The rug weavers spin the special sheep wool into extraordinary carpets, especially ones that can fly.

The Dalles have a moth-dog named Tik-Tik, who hunts the moths that settle in between the hanging rugs on display. The Camomiles and the Mangerlaines were very large, competitive tea-growing families in the Sunny South. One family member fell in love with a member of the other family. Diego and Freda settled in Harbour Heights and opened a 'tea-blending business', with medicinal blends such as Rumbly Tummy, emotional blends like Weepy-Moderate, and special fortune telling blends like Not for Ages.

But along with all the loving townsfolk caring for Hugo, there are suspicious doings afoot, the brewing of a takeover plot. The reclusive new editor of the Firefly Quarterly spies on the passersby. Sly Elliot de Mille watches unnoticed from one of the building's painted windows. Elliot harrumphs to himself, 'someday all will be mine'. Cressida Claw ('The Cat Lady') is a very lazy housemaid, hired and fired from one home to another. She loves to snoop, rifling through pockets and drawers. Cressida's best friends are a clan of alley cats, whom she trains to perform special deeds.

Paul Stewart and Christopher Riddell offer another illustrious story with magnificently detailed illustrations. Hugo Pepper is a stand-alone read, with some crossover of characters from the first two Far-Flung book - the congenial adventures of hero Fergus Crane and heroine Corby Flood. The book jacket opens into a smartly-detailed, fold-out map of Firefly Square. The Far-Flung Adventures' succulent silliness is astoundingly addictive! Filled with action, adventure, intrigue, and treasure-hunting, Hugo Pepper also features compellingly lovable cast members to be cherished by young (and young-at-heart) readers.

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