Happy Monday! It’s the start of another week here on SWB, and that means time for a middle grade review. Today I’m reviewing Evie and the Animals by Matt Haig. I’ve gone about this a little bit backwards as I actually read Evie in the Jungle in July, which is a short story Matt Haig wrote for World Book Day earlier this year and acts as a sort of follow up to this one. You can find my review alongside some of the other World Book Day short stories here. I really enjoyed the story, so I was keen to find out where it all began so I bought this one!
Title: Evie and the Animals
Author: Matt Haig
Publication Date: 6th June 2019
About The Book…
Ten-year-old Evie has a talent. A SUPERTALENT. Evie can TALK to animals and HEAR their thoughts. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? One day at school, Evie sets Kahlo the rabbit free from her too-small cage. Evie knows she’s done A Good Thing . . . but it lands her in BIG trouble. Evie’s dad and Granny Flora say her talent is a curse; she must never use it again. Until a year later pets on her street – including Lady Gaga the cat and a hamster named Cheryl – start disappearing. Evie is determined to find them. But it’s dangerous for her to help. Because the villain has a talent of their own, and only wants to use it for evil . . . Can Evie save the pets before it’s too late, even if it means DARING TO BE HERSELF?
Evie Trench has a rather special skill, she can understand what animals are thinking, and if she concentrates enough she can have a conversation with them. It’s a skill she inherited from her mother. A skill, she discovers, that led to her mother’s death and will put her own life at risk.
I’m not particularly familiar with Matt Haig, I’ve heard of him, but Evie in the Jungle was the only book of his I’d actually read until picking up this one but it certainly did not leave me disappointed!
Evie and the Animals is told in a series of short chapters making it ideal for newly independent readers or for parents sharing a bedtime story with their little ones. The storyline moves along quickly as we discover more about Evie’s talent and her family history. I was intrigued as we discovered more about her father’s reluctance for her to practice her skill and gripped as we reached the climax.
Conservation, extinction and climate change are all topics covered in the book. I think given the current state of the world they’re really important topics to be introduced to children and this book is a fantastic way to do it. I think Matt really puts things into perspective, for example that leatherback sea turtles had survived for over 110 million years and within 200,000 years of modern humans being on the planet is now vulnerable and in danger of extinction.
I loved Evie’s character, I think she portrays so many positive qualities, she’s kind and compassionate, to both other humans and animals, she does some slightly questionable things but she’s a young girl so I don’t think I can blame her for doing what she thought was the right thing to do.
I felt sorry for Evie’s dad, he was carrying so much baggage from their past, so it was really nice to see him share their history and become slightly more supportive of Evie’s skills. Granny Flora was such a wonderful creation, I adored her and her bearded dragon Plato, I could easily read a whole book about their adventures!
I have to give a mention to Emily Gravett, the illustrator behind the magical pictures which I think add a huge amount to the book. From Evie helping Scruffy with his paw, to the numerous missing posters and Beak and his pals teaching Leonora a lesson.
I thought this was an absolutely delightful book. I thought the story was beautifully written and covered some important topics in an age appropriate manner. The wonderful pictures really brought the story to life. I’m not sure if there are any further plans for Evie but I would love to catch up with her again one day!
About The Author…
Matt Haig is an author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 40 languages. It is being made into a film starring Maggie Smith, Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning How To Stop Time, The Radleys, The Humans and the number one bestseller The Midnight Library.
He has sold over three million books worldwide.
Connect With Matt
Want To Buy It?
As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?