The Ice Monster

HarperCollins. Mar. 2021. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062561114.
Gr 4-6–Readers should buckle their seatbelts for Walliams’s new novel, a fast-paced and funny story about a young girl and a woolly mammoth. All of the characters are introduced at the outset, but the star of the story is a spirited, resourceful, homeless orphan named Elsie. It’s 1899, and 10-year-old Elsie, who is white, has just run away from the cruel headmistress at Wormly Hall. She is living on the streets of London when she hears about the discovery of a 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth. Elsie sneaks into London’s Natural History Museum, the mammoth’s new home, and connects with Woolly, who is as “lost and alone” as she is. The following pages are rich with onomatopoeia, hyperbolic adventures, and narrow escapes. Elsie and her new friend Dotty, a kindly cleaning woman at the museum, join forces with a group of retired soldiers to confront a devious villain and bumbling police officers as they outwit their pursuers—and return Woolly safely to the North Pole via the HMS Victory.
VERDICT A tale with twists and turns, references to British landmarks, and lots of heart, this title will appeal to reluctant readers and fans of prehistoric animals.

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