The Beast and The Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips

I received an arc of this book from the publisher, via the blog tour organiser. The decision to read and be involved in this tour was entirely my own and this review forms my honest opinion.

Blurb

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan . . .

Review

This is a book I intended to review along with my six year old son. However, cards on the table, I had woefully underestimated just how long it would take a six year old to read a 200+ page book, and so I’ve had to speed on ahead and now have to act all surprised as we continue to read together!

He’s just beginning to develop a love of reading, and of writing his own stories (the author should look out – he’s looking to take his job when he’s ‘a little bit bigger, like maybe 9’) and this book marks one of the first that he’s become invested in and is keen to read to me (he was a particular fan of Patrick the Wintlorian Purple-Breasted Parrot….but I think the less said about that the better!!)

For my part, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a children’s book quite so much. It transported me back to the days when I pestered the librarian at my local library to track down all the Roald Dahl books so that I could binge read them all in a single summer. This book was so reminiscent of those books in my opinion. Quirky, full of wit, a bit gross but with a huge amount of heart. I sat and read the remainder in one evening and chuckled my way through. I’ve seen that it’s to be made into a film, and I truly don’t know which one of us will be first in the queue for tickets. My son is probably a little on the young side to ‘get’ it all, and he’s not quite confident enough for reading it to himself, but still, it has certainly captured his imagination and it has also got us chatting about all kinds of things – what the Beast may or may not have already eaten, what certain things might taste like – but also, it’s opened the doorway for us to chat about more serious issues too.

Ebeneezer Tweezer is on the cusp of his 512th birthday, when the Beast he houses in the attic of his rather large home, requests to eat a child. And so along comes Bethany, full of sass and mischief, Ebeneezer cannot wait to feed her to the Beast…..

It’s silly and huge amounts of fun, but it’s actually really quite a moving story about friendship and kindness. It has a wonderful message at its core, and I can imagine that this will have wide appeal to so many kids. Or, at least it should do, because I thought it was flipping brilliant! Without any hesitation, this is the most fun I’ve had reading a book for a long time, and it transported me back to my early days of reading when my biggest concern was whether or not I’d get away with reading my book during teatime. It really got me thinking about how wonderfully imaginative and exciting children’s literature can be, and how that age is no barrier to enjoying it. I really should read more, because it’s been both refreshing and a pure joy to read.

The illustrations are done by Isabelle Follath, and while sadly many of the illustrations in the review copy I had were marked as ‘coming soon’, there were a few throughout to get a flavour, and despite being black and white drawings, they are incredibly engaging, and bursting full of life and character. We liked the added touches of sweeping tails, and floating feathers randomly throughout too.

I truly hope that this will be a huge hit, and I’m thrilled that there is a series of books planned (but will they be gifts for my son, or me……!?)

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