The new year is now well under way, and I’m back in the swing of things, reading and reviewing merrily away as always. However, as regular readers will know, I’m not the only book reviewer in our family, and Emily has had a busy summer on the reading front too. Today, she’s keen to tell you all about one of her latest books, another fun choice from the Pushkin Children’s Books range…
…take it away, Miss Emily 🙂
What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The book is called Meet at the Ark at Eight!, and it’s by Ulrich Hub (and it’s translated by Helena Ragg-Kirkby).
What’s it about?
It’s about three squabbling penguins, an angry dove, an old Noah and a quite apologetic God! When the dove comes to visit the three penguins, he brings the news of the Great Flood, so all the animals are gathering in Noah’s Ark. The problem is, though, they are taking two of each species, and there are three penguins. The penguins decide to hatch a plan to stow the smallest one away!
Did you like it? Why (not)?
Yes, it was very funny, and nothing like the real Bible story. Plus I don’t think God would ask the saints for a cheesecake any time!
What was your favourite part?
I liked the bit where the dove really thought that God was inside the suitcase, but the penguin made a little bit of a mistake when he admitted that the flood was a bit too harsh.
Another funny bit is when Noah says that the penguins are making footprints on the new land (but it’s really just the tar from the Ark!).
Was it difficult to read?
Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls? Why (not)?
I would recommend this book to people who think penguins are boring – that’ll show ’em!
Emily, thank you very much.
Emily’s reviewing year has got off to a good start, then, and having had a quick flick through Meet at the Ark at Eight!, I’m not surprised. It’s an amusing little tale, and one which is a lot more subtle and involved than I would have thought from the brief description I saw on the Pushkin website. It is short, around sixty pages, but it works very well, with some excellent illustrations by Jörg Mühle peppering the book.
As Emily has pointed out, the three penguins are at the core of the story, determined to stick together no matter what certain Biblical patriarchs might have to say on the matter. The antagonist here is the dove, a slightly stressed helper whose responsibility it is to deliver invitations and count the animals onto the Ark. It’s her neck on the line if things go wrong, so she’s naturally suspicious when two penguins turn up with a bulky suitcase – but also a little distracted:
In the doorway she turns around once more and glances again at the two penguins munching away. “Hmm,” she says. “I have a funny feeling that I’ve forgotten something. Something important.” She scratches her head and murmurs, “Oh well, it’ll come back to me.” Then she quickly pulls the door shut behind her.
p.38 (Pushkin Children’s Books, 2015)
As it turns out, though, she’ll be very glad that there’s an extra body on board by the time the journey comes to an end 🙂
Contrary to the last time the Ark appeared in my reading (the rather grim depiction in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s A Time for Everything), this is a light-hearted affair that adults and children alike will enjoy. I will add a caveat, though; if your faith is offended by misrepresentations of Bible stories, you might not find this quite as entertaining as we did. Towards the end, especially, Hub interprets the story a little differently to how you may remember it…
Meet at the Ark at Eight! is definitely a book my helper and I would recommend, a story of sticking by your friends regardless of what lies ahead. Into each life some rain must fall, but if that is the case, it’s always good to have a ticket for the Ark handy – and some extra-big luggage, just in case 😉