Reader Reviewed Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve

Oliver and the Seawigs

Written by Philip Reeve
Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre

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Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book of the Year 2014 - Best Story

September 2013 Book of the Month

Award-winning Philip Reeve spins a hugely original yarn encompassing moving islands, a short sighted mermaid, a stuck-up boy by the name of Stacey de Lacey and his private army of cheeky, smelly green sea monkeys and a charming hero Oliver whose search for his parents brings him into contact with all of the above. Sarah McIntyre’s ebullient illustrations capture the quirky nature of this adventure perfectly.

A Piece of Passion from Clare Whitston, Editor, Oxford University Press

I love this book! Created by two inspirational voices in the Children’s book world, Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre (pictured right), it is simply a joy to read. Full of humour and eccentricity – ‘Oliver and the Seawigs’ is beautifully written – read it out loud to revel in the language which flows off the page. The illustrations are stunning too – you could happily get lost for hours in one Sarah’s pictures – of underwater worlds and amazing creatures.

The book is a great adventure story about a boy called Oliver who is searching for his missing parents. An adventure story, with AWESOME seawigs. ‘But what’s a seawig?’ I hear you cry. Well, it’s a wig made up of things found in the sea. Rambling Isles collect old shipwrecks and the odd Narwhal to construct their wigs and then have a competition to judge whose is best – naturally. There’s also a slightly overweight, short-sighted mermaid with a terrible singing voice. Her name is Iris and she’s the best friend you could wish for. Then there’s a little island called Cliff with self-esteem issues. What he needs is a really good seawig to cheer him up but also friends like Iris and Oliver. Oh, and there’s also a grumpy Albatross called Mr. Culpeper (what good is an adventure without a grumpy old albatross along for the ride?) And that’s not even all. I still haven’t told you about the Sea Monkeys. They are my favourite characters in a children’s book, possibly ever. But not everyone finds them as easy to love as I do, illustrated by the following conversation that Jo (the designer on the book) and I have had on many occasions: Me: ‘EEP! I really, really want a Sea Monkey!’ Jo: ‘Are you insane? Sea Monkeys are pesky, greasy little critters. And you can’t have just one Sea Monkey anyway. You’ll have an army before you know it and then they’ll destroy you.’ Me: ‘Ooooh, an army of Sea Monkeys . . .’

Not only will this book be a favourite of mine for many years to come, it has also changed the way I look at flotsam and jetsam washed up on the beach (great seawig potential) and seaweed fronds, ripe for popping (my chance for a Sea Monkey army of my very own). Please let me know what you think about this book by contacting me on twitter (@CWhitston) or you can send your comments direct to our Children’s Books team (@oupchildrens).

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Oliver And The Seawigs a small number of children were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'An absolutely brilliant adventure.The myriad of weird and wonderful creatures were really funny and the illustrations fitted them perfectly. I tore through this in one sitting. Fantastic!.'

Scroll down to read more reviews...


Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve

Oliver grew up in a family of explorers - but his biggest adventure is about to begin! Along with his new friends, a grumpy old albatross, a short-sighted mermaid and a friendly island called Cliff, Oliver goes off in search of his missing parents. But before he can put his rescue plan into action there's the evil Stacey de Lacey and an army of greasy, green sea monkeys to contend with...

Oliver and the Seawigs - Trailer from MB Films on Vimeo.

Click here to visit the special Oliver and the Seawigs page on illustrator, Sarah McIntyre's website - full of fun activities to download & extra information on the characters in the book.


A small number of children were lucky enough to be invited to review Oliver And The Seawigs. You can read their reviews below.

Stephanie Chaplin, age 8 - 'I loved the book. I thought it was funny when Iris swam into Cliff. I think aged 8+ boys and girls will like this book.' Click Here to read the full review.

Alexander Bisland, age 8 - 'I like this book because it is exciting and full of adventure. The illustrations are also very good...I give it 100 stars!' Click Here to read the full review.

Evie Young, age 8 -
'A really funny book, full of amazing characters and brilliant pictures...I really hope Oliver has more adventures because I'd love to read them.' Click Here to read the full review.

James Goodall, age 9 - 'I found this book a really entertaining and compelling read. The action is fast-paced and the brilliant illustrations give the story the feel of a graphic novel.' Click Here to read the full review.

Khadijah - 'Perfect for reading both aloud and alone.' Click Here to read the full review.

Sam Harper, age 9
- 'An absolutely brilliant adventure.The myriad of weird and wonderful creatures were really funny and the illustrations fitted them perfectly. I tore through this in one sitting. Fantastic!' Click Here to read the full review.


‘… marvellous maritime adventure. … Dive in for lots of fun’ Sally Morris, The Daily Mail

‘a gloriously wacky story’ ‘it will bring back the magic of a perfect holiday by the sea’
Amanda Craig, The Times

‘a fun-packed delight’ Martin Chilton, The Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Philip Reeve

Philip Reeve was our Guest Editor for June 2012. Click here to see his books and some that inspired him.

Philip Reeve was born and raised in Brighton, where he worked in a bookshop for years while also producing and directing a number of no-budget theatre projects. Philip then began illustrating and has since provided cartoons and jokes for around forty books, including the best-selling Scholastic series Horrible Histories, as well as Murderous Maths and Dead Famous. He's been writing stories since he was five, but Mortal Engines was the first to be published.

Mortal Engines defies easy categorisation. It is a gripping adventure story set in an inspired fantasy world, where moving cities trawl the globe. A magical and unique read, it immediately caught the attention of readers and reviewers and won several major awards. Three more Predator Cities novels followed, and Philip's latest project are the Fever Crumb books, prequels set centuries before the events of Mortal Engines. Philip has also written Buster Bayliss, a series for younger readers, and stand alone novels including Here Lies Arthur, which won the Carnegie Medal. Philip lives in Devon with his wife and son and his interests are walking, drawing, writing and reading.

Click here to see a Philip talking about his new adventure book, Oliver and the Seawigs, a collaboration with Sarah McIntyre.

Philip Reeve's fiction publisher, Marion Lloyd, describes his Predator Cities series:

“..inspiring adventure stories, in whose futuristic, post-apocalyptic setting, moving cities trawl the Earth. They attack and consume each other in wastelands where natural resources are scarce, and Ancient technology is fought for. Fast-paced, sometimes violent, always surprising and original, Reeve’s epic sequence of love, war and adventure are richly rewarding for both adults and children.”

Praise for Philip Reeve:

‘Intelligent, funny and wise’ - Literary Review on Fever Crumb

‘Reeve drives his juggernaut of a talent through the streets of a mob-crazed futuristic London with Cecil B DeMille grandeur. Resent being suckered into sequels? Fever Crumb is a complete story – but it may prove addictive’ - Geraldine McCaughrean, Daily Telegraph on Fever Crumb

‘A masterpiece’ - Sunday Telegraph

‘A majestic achievement’ - Sunday Times

‘Marvellous… utterly captivating in its imaginative scope and energy’ - Daily Telegraph

‘Brilliant… an absorbing and emotionally engaging work’ - Amanda Craig, The Times

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Book Info


208 pages


Philip Reeve
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Oxford University Press

Publication date

5th September 2013




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