Pilot and Huxley, by Dan McGuiness

Mum? Dad?
This is weird. It’s eight o’clock in the morning, and my mum isn’t stuffing a delicious waffle into my mouth.
It is Saturday. Maybe they went down to the shops to buy me food.
But My sister and brothers aren’t here either. This is so weird.

Huxley is surprised to wake on Saturday morning in an empty house. There is no indication of the whereabouts of his parents, sister or brother. His friend Pilot calls to share his own discovery. The two boys are fans of a video game they’ve borrowed from the local video shop. Their failure to return it on time has consequences for alien invaders who need the code imbedded in the video to activate their world-destroying ‘weapon of doom’. Little fazes these intrepid albeit inadvertent adventurers as they discover parallel worlds, traverse bee swamps and battle giants. The title characters are big-headed, large-eyed children and the monsters are often unexpected but always wild. The adventure ends with ‘to be continued…’, promising new instalments to follow.

Pilot and Huxley is a full-colour graphic novel. To read it is to feel as if you are eavesdropping on enthusiastic eight-year-old boys who have just finished playing a computer role-playing-game and have decided to make their own adventure. Understatement, exaggeration, techno-speak, pop culture references and wild adventure are all there. Although there are girl characters, Pilot and Huxley is most likely to appeal to young boys and reluctant readers. The author includes the reader in extra ‘insider’ jokes by having the characters aware of the book form, eg Pilot calls Huxley to his place – ‘be here in the next panel’. It’s easy to imagine boys copying the form and drawing their own stories after reading Pilot and Huxley. Recommended for mid-primary aged boys.

Pilot and Huxley, Dan McGuiness
Omnibus Books 2009
ISBN: 9781862918122

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author