Monday 21 August 2023

UPCOMING RELEASE: Peanut Jones and The End of the Rainbow


Published by: Pan Macmillan, 28th September 2023

Draw With Rob may have kept us entertained through lockdown but we were quite late to his highly successful lower MG series: Peanut Jones. Beginning book one, Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City, in 
January 2023, we quickly realised that we'd been missing out and galloped through book two, Peanut Jones and the Twelve Portals, just in time for my daughter to decide to dress up as Peanut for World Book Day. Not wanting to wait until September for the final instalment, we then jumped at the chance to read an early copy of Peanut Jones and the End of the Rainbow, courtesy of Pan Macmillan and NetGalley...

When Peanut Jones, her sister, Little-Bit and her sort-of-friend, Rockwell, create a portal into an illustrated city with an unusual pencil, little do they know that they're about to embark on an incredible adventure. The city of Chroma is the source of all artistic creativity but does it have anything to do with why her dad has up and left the family home?

Peanut soon discovers that Chroma is in terrible danger. A villain called Mr. White has taken over the city and is trying to destroy it. Not only that, but the pencil Peanut has in her possession seems to be the key to stopping Mr. White. Can Peanut keep it out of his possession, join the resistance and find out where her dad is? Time is running out! Her mum has been kidnapped and Mr. White may not be quite who he seems. Does he have the upper hand after all? The fight for Chroma may come down to the luck of the draw...

The first thing to say is that these books are physically stunning. Having read the first two books in hardback, they are a feast for the senses; highly illustrated, full of tonal colours and incredibly satisfying to hold. Yet, woven through the beautiful aesthetics, is a story as bright and vivid as a rainbow. The world-building is incredible, Rob Biddulph's imagination jumps off the page and the characters - from Peanut to Little-Bit to Jonathan Higginbottom to Table Guy - are all highly memorable and lovable. The twists and turns are quirky and unpredictable enough to keep readers on their toes. But then, what do you expect from a world where anything you draw becomes real?

For a younger MG novel, the vocabulary is quite challenging in places. However, combined with the short chapter lengths and the extensive illustrations, this proved to be a positive thing, giving my nine year old the determination to persist and improving her reading level. I don't think I've seen her devour a series like this before and I believe that, as a rather reluctant reader, she was inspired by the whole package: the engaging story, the world and the very visual depictions of what was happening at each point. 

The third instalment proved to be very satisfying. There were some great twists and turns and drama right until the very end. Although, this is a deeply thought-out world and plot, the overall tone is light, with an emphasis on the sheer joy of art and creating. In all three books and, indeed, through the very place names of the world he has created, Rob Biddulph pays homage to famous artists and to the history and importance of art in our culture and personal lives.  The end-papers help to inspire and educate and, to our delight, it appears that this might not quite be the end of the end, even if we never return to Chroma. Watch this empty space...

This is a very special middle-grade fantasy series that is so utterly unique, I can't actually think of any comparison texts. What I do know is that is a celebration of the good stuff: of art, creativity, family, friendships and magical worlds. Of adventure and superheroes and joy. We really recommend you don't miss out. 

A big thanks to NetGalley and Pan MacMillan for allowing us a review copy. Peanut Jones and the End of the Rainbow is now available to pre-order. 

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