Which Way Round the Galaxy by Cressida Cowel

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Reviewer: Better Reading

Come with me if you dare, and take the Which Way to Anywhere …

Hold on tight for this out-of-this-world new adventure from Cressida Cowell – former Waterstones Children’s Laureate and No.1 bestselling author of How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series.

The O’Hero-Smiths may have rescued their little sister Annipeck, found K2 and Izza’s father Everest and triumphed over the robot assassin called the EXCORIATOR – but their story isn’t quite over yet. Because there is danger and possibility in the Which Ways. And a new adventure bursting with magic is about to take them through the crossing points and into new worlds.

Which Way Round the Galaxy is the much-anticipated sequel to Which Way to Anywhere. BR Kids readers have long been huge fans of Cowell, and fell head over heels for this imaginative new adventure series when the first book was released last year. I have no doubt they’re going to love this follow-up!

The sequel sees the return of our four heroes, K2, Izzabird, Theo and Mabel. Together, they make up the O’Hero-Smith household – a blended family of four siblings, who don’t always see eye to eye, but who nonetheless must learn to work together if they’re going to overcome the challenges they’re faced with. Each of these brilliantly relatable protagonists has their own strengths, flaws and foibles, meaning kids of all kinds will have no trouble finding a character to relate to.

‘There is no Magic on Planet Earth. Or there oughtn’t be.’ It’s this ingenious piece of world-building early on in Which Way Round the Galaxy that really got me hooked. Of course, kids everywhere know there is plenty of Magic to be found on Earth! Sometimes you need to go looking for it, but in the case of the O’Hero-Smiths, it seems to come looking for them…

Like book #1, Which Way Round the Galaxy is a fast-paced explosion of creativity, packed with fantastical settings and memorable creatures. While the constant flow of imagination never lets up, the story is poignantly grounded in the very human relationships and desires of the young protagonists, meaning it’s never difficult to suspend disbelief.

A generously illustrated graphic novel, Cowell brings her dynamic storyline to life with brilliantly energetic, expressive black-and-white illustrations. Kids will love the inclusion of various handwritten notes and additions to the text; these clever and unexpected exploitations of the graphic novel form keep the pages turning.

The Which Way series is witty and intelligent. But it’s also wonderfully accessible for readers who might struggle to engage with denser, more text-heavy independent reads. Readers can certainly dive in at book #2, but I’d recommend going back to the start to really get to know the nuances of the out-of-this-world universe Cowell has created.

Luckily for us, Cowell has proven herself to be a prolific author-illustrator, and an intriguing epilogue hints that this won’t be the last we see of the O’Hero-Smiths. I certainly hope to meet them again! This is a must-read for imaginative kids aged 8+.

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