Agatha Parrot and the Thirteenth Chicken by Kjartan Poskitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first came across Agatha Parrot at a conference I attended. This is the fifth title in the series but it’s immediately accessible to new readers. Two neat little illustrations at the start of the book, one of the school and one of Odd Street where Agatha lives with her friends, does the trick. It’s some clever work and credit’s due to David Tazzyman who continues to illustrate, quite smartly and vividly, throughout the book. His lines are loose and exuberant and they’re not *intimidating* illustrations. The lines aren’t bald and clean, the edges aren’t dull with perfection, and that’s exactly the right tone for this furiously exuberant book.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Agatha Parrot, she’s like Darcy Burdock meets Alice-Miranda. Agatha is very barely contained within these pages and I can see her appealing to a very wide range of readers. Her, and her group of girl friends, are all intensely figured and come across well with their own characteristics.
One of the elements that didn’t quite work for me was that there’s intermittent mention made of “the old man who types out these books for me” and at one point, Agatha recounts an argument she’s had with him about her word choice. Whilst I’m conscious that this is a very adult critique of a book (and oh, there’s a thesis right there and it’s one I’ll explore later), it was a choice that took away from the book for me. Agatha is so furiously attention-grabbing that to dilute that focus through the introduction of this other presence felt like a problematic choice for me.