Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Malachy Doyle & illustrated by Giles Greenfield

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7475-5093-X
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK/Trafalgar

Atmospheric illustrations compensate, at least in part, for pedestrian prose in this metaphor-rich import. On a parent-less visit to Grandad’s isolated cottage, young Owen sees the mountain towering overhead, and wants to climb it. At first, Grandad says he’s too old, and Owen too young; he relents the next day and off they hie up the winding path, followed by a very old dog. Greenfield artfully captures the initial uncertainty on Grandad’s face, then goes on to depict the climbers passing wonderfully gnarled trees, alert wildlife, and a widening green landscape that sometimes itself seems ready to rise on giant feet and follow. In telling the tale, Doyle (Sleepy Pendoodle, see below, etc.) tries for powerful simplicity, but mostly sounds stiff: “Owen looked all around, and he was frightened. He looked down and saw Grandad, trudging up behind him, and he was glad.” After achieving their goal—anticlimactically: “At last, together, they reached the summit of the great mountain”—the two make their way wearily back, and finish the day sharing a cozy armchair before the fireplace. Greenfield’s misty hills may inspire long thoughts, but Doyle is a better storyteller than this effort shows. (Picture book. 6-9)