Captain Congo and the Maharaja’s Monkey, by Ruth Starke

‘Glad to see you’ve regained your appetite, my friend.
It hasn’t been the same since Africa.’
‘Have more crème caramel, Monsieur Pug, to build up your strength. Who knows when you and the Captain will be off again.’
‘Soon, I hope’ There’s nothing like the call to adventure, eh Pug?’

Captain Congo, with the help of his not-quite-so-intrepid offsider Pug, solves mysteries. Their first adventure was set in Africa and this new call takes the pair to India. They have been asked to investigate the sudden death of the Maharaja. Plans are already underway for the installing of his successor. Although the Maharaja had left information about his successor, not everyone is happy with his choice. Rumours abound. Meanwhile, Captain Congo and Pug (now cunningly – if reluctantly – disguised as a woman) are to infiltrate the palace and see if they can discover what happened to the old Maharaja. They will also investigate the rumours surrounding the succession. Captain Congo and the Maharaja’s Monkey is a large format, hard back, full colour graphic novel in the style of ‘Asterix’ and ‘Tintin’.

Captain Congo and the Maharaja’s Monkeyis an adventure in grand style. Only Captain Congo, a gorilla, Pug, a penguin, and Captain Congo’s housekeeper are anthropomorphic, with the rest of the ‘cast’ taking human form. The humans accept Captain Congo as equals, with the deputy chief minister being beguiled by the in-disguise Pug. There is plenty of humour here, along with the cracking-pace adventure. Captain Congo plays it straight, although if 2D eyes could twinkle, his would! He is very worldly, has many friends and connections and speaks many unexpected languages. Pug is the reluctant sidekick, compelled to shine in roles he would not choose. Their combination of detective work, costumery and luck win the day so Captain Congo and Pug can return to their island home. Recommended for mid-primary and beyond.

Captain Congo and the Maharaja's Monkey

Captain Congo and the Maharaja’s Monkey, Ruth Starke ill Greg Holfield
Omnibus Books, 2009
ISBN: 9781921504044

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review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author