The Blurb On The Back:
Finn and his dog, Skip, are exploring the skies on a hang glider, when a flock of swans steals their map! As they set off on a mission to get it back, they uncover what’s going on in the skies.
Follow Finn and Skip as they learn how they can help keep the air clean and look after the birds that call it home …
They are happy to help where they can. What can you do?
ADVENTURES WITH FINN AND SKIP: BIRD was released in the United Kingdom on 4th August 2022. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
It is Skip the dog’s birthday and Finn has organised a special treat of a hang glider ride for his faithful friend. But as the pair glide high in the sky, enjoying the view of the countryside below, they bump into a flock of migrating swans and one of them makes off with Finn’s map!
Finn and Skip chase after the swans and in doing so see some of the nastier parts of society like rubbish dumps and chimneys pumping out dirty smoke. Fortunately, their journey also introduces them to a group of scientists who explain what Finn and Skip can do to ensure that pollution doesn’t happen and how they can help to improve the environment for the swans and everyone else.
The 4th in Brendan Kearney’s picture book series has the worthy aim of introducing young readers to environmental issues and what they can do to improve things but it’s heavy-handed and some of it would go over the head of the target readership. Also, although I liked Kearney’s stripped down illustrations, I must confess that I thought the swans were geese. Ultimately I applaud the intent but the execution didn’t work for me here.
I hadn’t read any of the previous books in this picture book series so wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into it. I liked the characters of Finn and Skip, who are clearly very good friends, I enjoyed the stripped down illustrations that Kearney uses to show them. The story itself progresses in a linear way, with Kearney contrasting the beauty of the countryside with the dirty, busy big city and I have to say that was one of my first issues with it because it’s a bit of a cliche, especially given the pollution that agriculture in the countryside can do to waterways.
Although I did like Kearney’s illustration style, I will confess that when the swans arrive in the book I thought that they were actually geese – partly because of the way they are drawn but also because the text has them honking and I associate that with geese more than I do with swans. That said, there is humour to be had from the fact that one of the swans has Finn’s map stuck around its neck and drama from the storm that Finn and Skip fly into.
I did find the last part of the book quite heavy handed when Finn and Skip bump into a group of scientists who explain what they can do to help the environment. It’s all a bit preachy and doesn’t tie in especially well with the events that precede it while the language is quite sophisticated such that I’m not convinced that younger readers will understand it – although it may help to provoke discussions with parents, teachers and caregivers about the subject, which would be a good thing.
All in all, I am not against getting young readers interested in the environment and what they can do to support it, but I am not convinced that this book (while very well-intentioned) does it in a way that younger readers can easily grasp and relate to. However, I did like the illustrations (for the most part) and would check out Kearney’s other books, notwithstanding that this one didn’t fully work for me.