Bibi Blundermuss and the Tree Across the Cosmos, a middle-grade fantasy novel from Andrew Durkin, is a wonderful adventure that presents a compelling and well-crafted world, whilst telling a wholesome narrative.
Featuring a diverse cast and some great worldbuilding, Bibi Blundermuss and the Tree Across the Cosmos is a must-read for children aged 10 to 13, though adults will also appreciate the whimsical world presented by Durkin too.
Bibi Blundermuss and the Tree Across the Cosmos
Like many children’s fiction novels before it, the titular Bibi Blundermuss’s parents are missing. This is a familiar trope, but it’s written in a way that still feels fresh. In the meantime, Bibi lives with her Grandma, but longs for a reunion with her absent mother & father.
After her cat, Eek, is swept away to a distant world across the cosmos, Bibi is determined not to lose anyone else from her life. Following him, she finds herself embroiled in a longstanding conflict between creatures such as Elk, Lions, Spirits, and Arbor Guardians. It’s a really unique tale that successfully captures the elusive magic of children’s storytelling – thought-provoking, fantastical, and authentic.
In fact, with talking animals, a truly inquisitive lead, and some great writing, Durkin’s novel draws favourable comparisons with CS Lewis’s tales in Narnia.
And similarly to stories like Narnia, part of the appeal of Bibi Blunderbuss and the Tree Across the Cosmos is the clashing of the divide between our rational world and the fey-like world of the Woodskulls and Trolliclawians.
This binary opposition of the ordinary versus the fantastical captures that wonderful childlike feeling that perhaps, just maybe, you too could stumble into a forbidden realm one day. It’s wonderful.
The world is beautifully rich and detailed, with Durkin creating unique animal tribes and presenting a mythos that’s interesting without being overly convoluted or complex.
If there were one criticism, it’s that the book is arguably a little violent for the age range. Animals wound each other, quite severely. Opinions will likely vary on this, but it’s worth mentioning.
Overall, Bibi Blundermuss and the Tree Across the Cosmos is a very good book, and a must-read for young readers.
It’s a fantastic example of diverse fantasy done well, with Bibi’s parents being of South African and Icelandic descent. Both the Zulu and Icelandic languages are included throughout the novel too, which is a nice touch.
And barring an aggressive overuse of the word hylophobia and an uninspiring title, Bibi Blundermuss and the Tree Across the Cosmos is a very well written book. The language is clear, concise, and highly descriptive – it’s a writing style that captures the magic of reading for younger readers exceptionally well.
Full disclaimer: A review copy was kindly provided by the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review.