By Veronica Cossanteli
Published by Chicken House
ISBN 978 1 908435 45 3
We all know that animals living in the middle of a dark wood are not likely to be people-friendly. It is never advisable to approach a wild animal.
There is a wood called Wyvern Chase, near where young George Drake lives. And George knows there is a farm in the middle of the wood. But most people in the small town of Squermington just ignore Wormestall Farm and the weird old lady who lives there. The farm has known better days, and the citizens of Squermington have better things to do with their time than think about an isolated farm in a wood.
But Wormestall Farm hides an amazing secret, and George is about to discover that the animals living there are not regular farm animals. George's fast and furious adventure all begins with an advert in a local shop window: "Help wanted at Wormestall Farm. Interest in wildlife necessary." George could do with some extra spending money, so off he goes to find out more.
Growing up in Hong Kong, author Veronica Cossanteli always surrounded herself with interesting animals, most of them in her imagination. Now living in Britain, Veronica owns three cats, two snakes, one guinea pig and lots of lizards. And the animals in her imagination have at last found their way into a book. The Extincts is a wild and totally bonkers story that is bursting with good humour and outlandish storytelling.
Wormestall Farm is a hidden sanctuary for a whole host of animals that shouldn't be there. And they are all cared for by a kindly lady called Mrs Lind. Among others, Mrs Lind looks after Dido the dodo, Mingus the Early Mammal, Grissel the dragon and Big Nigel the unicorn. Mrs Lind knows she can trust George completely with the secret of Wormestall Farm, and she gives him the job as her assistant without hesitation.
But when Mortifer, the giant basilisk, goes missing, George has to spring into action to save Mrs Lind's secret. Local taxidermist Diamond Pye is hot on the trail of recent sightings of Mortifer, and she intends to catch him and stuff him to add to her collection of dead stuffed animals. Diamond Pye is a superb villainess, and she is joined by a whole cast of fun characters who either aid or abet George in this highly unlikely but entertaining tale.
Cossanteli is a new writer with a wicked sense of humour and a great imagination. There are few books around for younger teen readers that are as laugh-aloud funny as this bizarre extinct animal yarn. Enjoy!
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com