Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: Hooey Higgins and the Shark by Steve Voake (Cybils Nominee)

Hooey Higgins and the Shark. by Steve Voake. April 24th 2012. Candlewick. 112 pages. ISBN: 9780763657826

Hooey Higgins and the Shark is the latest chapter book from Daisy Dawson series author Steve Voake. Hooey and his friend Twig spot a chocolate egg in the window of the local candy shop, but they are hugely disappointed when they learn it costs sixty-five pounds. Thankfully, a shark has been spotted in Shrimpton, where the boys live, so they figure they can capture him and make their money that way. That doesn’t quite work out as planned, but Hooey does discover the world’s biggest sea urchin in the process. Now if he and Twig can just dodge Basbo the bully, everything might turn out okay.

Though both are by the same author, this book seems to target a much different audience than the Daisy Dawson series. The Daisy books are sweet, warm, and gentle, whereas Hooey Higgins and the Shark is more humorous, sophisticated and irreverent. Daisy Dawson probably works well for girls in preschool and kindergarten as well as older kids. This book, with its underwear jokes, including mention of a bra, and wacky illustrations, not to mention the fascination with sharks, is most likely to be appreciated by 7 and 8 year old boys.

This is not to say, though, that the entire book is comprised of immature humor. Rather, the entire book is very funny, with lots of great description and dialogue that keep the pages turning. One of the highlights of the story for me is this exchange between Hooey and his grandfather:

“Are you having a bath, Grandpa?” asked Hooey.
“Well, that was the idea,” said Grandpa.
“Can you leave the water in when you’ve finished?”
“Certainly,” replied Grandpa. “Any particular reason?”
“I might want to put a shark in it later,” said Hooey.
Grandpa raised an eyebrow. “A shark, eh? That’ll be a sight worth seeing.”
“I know,” agreed Hooey. “We can charge people and everything.”
“Well, you’ve obviously given it some thought,” said Grandpa. “I’ll go easy on the bubble bath, then, shall I?”
Hooey put his thumbs up. “Thanks, Grandpa!”
(pp. 21-22)

Grandpa is one of my favorite characters in the entire book, because he plays along with Hooey and doesn’t discourage him from pursuing his plans, even if they seem far-fetched.

I also love the way Voake describes Basbo, the bully of the story:

Walking toward them was a large, scowling boy, his fists half-clenched as if they were squeezing a couple of invisible bananas. His hair was shaved at the sides and what was left had been dyed yellow-blond, so it looked as if a small field of stubble was sprouting from the top of his head. He had the word BAZ written across his knuckles in blue ink, which Twig said was a reminder for when Miss Troutson took attendance. (p.48)

These details are so specific that even if there were not an illustration of Baz to accompany this paragraph, readers would have a vision of him clear in their minds.

Hooey Higgins and the Shark is entertaining all the way through and has a truly exciting ending that reveals not just the truth about the so-called sea urchin, but also puts the boys in danger and even reintroduces the shark for just a moment. There are other books about Hooey available in the UK - Hooey Higgins and the Tremendous Trousers, Hooey Higgins Goes For Gold, Hooey Higgins and the Big Boat Race, Hooey Higgins and the Big Day Out. I hope these titles will make their way to the US as well, because I’d love to read more about Hooey and his adventures.

Recommend Hooey Higgins and the Shark to fans of Horrid Henry, Horrible Harry, My Weird School, and Calvin Coconut.

I borrowed Hooey Higgins and the Shark from my local public library. 

For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat

NOTE: This book was nominated by Jennifer for the 2012 Cybils Awards in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. I am a first-round panelist in this category, but this review reflects my opinions only, not those of any other panelist, or the panel as a whole. Thanks!


  1. Looooove Hooey. I booktalked it to a ton of classes last May and the kids always broke up. My booktalk

    (soft, syrupy voice) Hooey and his best friend Twig are walking down the street when they fall in looooove (clasp hands over heart)
    with the hugest gigantic chocolate egg in the whole world!! (wave arms wildly)
    Unfortunately, they don't have any money. Fortunately, they have a plan. They have ketchup, they have shrimp nets, they have shark sightings. Hooey and Twig will do whatever it takes to get together with their egg and be chocolately ever after.
    (kids crack up and then try to grab the book from each other when they get to look and touch)

    1. Awesome book talk! I love the "chocolately ever after."


Comments on this blog are moderated. Your comment will appear after it has been approved. Thanks for your feedback!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.