Captain Congo and the Crocodile King, by Ruth Starke

‘If I’m not mistaken, a whiff of Africa on the breeze this morning, Pug.’
‘I thought it was grilled sardines.’
‘Not a cloud on the horizon.’
‘There is something on the horizon, Captain, look!’

Captain Congo and his offsider, Pug, are off on an African adventure, on behalf of ‘The Agency’. Their mission is to find a missing person, Professor Perky, last seen in Abyssinia. The pair set off, first boarding an African steamer. They are warned the cabin is a little rough. Pug is concerned about his bedding and the food, but Captain Congo takes it all in his stride. They arrive in Soddhu and search for clues and transport for the next stage of their journey. They discover the purpose of Perky’s expedition and set off into the jungle. After an unplanned swim with the crocodiles, they abandon their meandering and begin to search in earnest. It’s not long before they reach a village, and learn the fate of Professor Perky.

Captain Congo and the Crocodile King is a wonderfully exciting tale, in the style of the ‘grand adventure’ made popular by the Tin Tin series and also by the Asterix books. The main characters are clothed animals (gorilla and penguin), but the rest of the cast are human or animals-behaving-as-animals (particularly the mosquitoes. There is a delightfully wicked tongue-in-cheek quality to both the writing and the illustrations. Captain Congo is a wise and canny hero, while Pug does some of the ‘grunt’ work. He makes it clear that he’d prefer an adventure in a colder climate. Captain Congo and the Crocodile is a large format hardback, similar in size to Tin Tin books. Like these stories, ‘Captain Congo and the Crocodile King’ is sure to find a broad readership. The front cover features the heroes battling a very large crocodile and is sure to entice mid-primary readers. It would also suit less confident older readers. Recommended for those who enjoyed Tin Tin and Asterix, and for readers new to the genre.

Captain Congo and the Crocodile King, Ruth Starke ill Greg Holfeld
working title press 2008
ISBN: 9781876288914