Barkbelly is not like other boys: he was hatched from a wooden egg and he’s literally tough as teak. Brought up by humans in a village far from his kin, he flees his childhood home after an unfortunate accident ends in the death of a young boy.
He then embarks ‘ no pun intended ‘ on a series of adventures that bring him into contact with the circus, the urban jungle, pirates, slave traders and ultimately to Ashenpeake, the island home of his people.
Cat Weatherill’s tale of Barkbelly’s search for his roots addresses some fairly challenging themes: loss, betrayal and the true meaning of love. Ultimately, however, the action rolls on so fast that most will be swept along for the ride.
There’s a slight sense that Barkbelly is a series of fantastical vignettes populated with wild and wonderful characters rather than a coherent whole. However, the real issue if you’re using the book as a bedtime story may be persuading your kids to wait till tomorrow for the next instalment.