The Misadventures of Frederick by Ben Manley and Emma Chichester Clark

The Misadventures of Frederick by Ben Manley and Emma Chichester Clark cover

The Misadventures of Frederick by Ben Manley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s something to be said for subtle, soft strangeness in the world of picture books and The Misadventures of Frederick bathes in that with utter delight. Frederick is a boy who lives inside a mansion and very rarely goes out. He’s bored, sheltered, and protected by the world by furniture and walls that are twice the size of him. One day a paper plane comes through the window – it’s an invite from Emily, a girl outside, and she wants him to come and play. Frederick’s fear of the outside world makes him decline her invitation, but Emily’s not one to be put off and persists‚Ķ

It’s a weirdly wonderful book this, with a slight edge of strangeness and wonder in every inch of it. Ben Manley’s text is careful and deliciously, delicately odd – Frederick replies to Emily’s invitations in a very particular style and language and it’s perfect – and Emma Chichester Clark‘s art softens anything too strange and scary. The Misadventures of Frederick is a book of balance, however, and the juxtaposition between the inside and the outside world is something else. Inside is dark and shadowy with long and slender shafts of light cutting through windows and into rooms full of outsized furniture, and outside is full of everything. Big rich colours, bright palettes, vibrant spreads of movement and wonder, and the contrast is beautifully, wonderfully handled. There’s a point where Outside breaks into Frederick’s world, a breeze of golden, Autumnal leaves, and it’s delightful, utterly.

This is a class, class act.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

View all my reviews

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