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High in the Clouds is a children’s adventure novel written by musician/songwriter Paul McCartney and Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Geoff Dunbar, and published by Faber and Faber in October 2005. As writer/producer and animator/director, McCartney and Dunbar had collaborated on the 1984 animated film Rupert and the Frog Song, and High In The Clouds was scripted and sketched for several years by the two of them as another film.
When the characters’ home, Woodland, is attacked by human development, a young squirrel (Wirral) is left without a home and without his mother. Guided by his mother’s final words and aided by his fellow animal friends he meets on his journey, Wirral goes on a quest for the secret island sanctuary of Animalia. Wirral finds himself in an epic journey filled with evil realities and wild dreams. He and his friends experience tragedy, war, joy and victory, all in the name of freedom and peace.
The book has an overall theme of preserving nature and letting animals live free and in their natural habitat. In The Observer it was described as “a tale about the perils of unchecked global capitalism“.
High in the Clouds is a rich, meandering, often funny tale. While the illustrations feel somewhat wooden and the ending slightly pat, young audiences will delight in the clever wordplay and smartly-drawn comic characters like Alfredo, the weightlifting flea. The story abounds with literary references: an allusion to James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, a fat, bowler-hat-clad rat named Wackford (after the eponymous headmaster from Nicholas Nickleby), and an animal assembly scene straight out of Kipling’s The Jungle Book.The Independant – Review – from paulmccartney.com
[…] McCartney has collaborated with Geoff Dunbar, multi-award winning animator of the unforgettable Rupert and the Frog Song, and bestselling children’s author Philip Ardagh, to create the adventure of Wirral the Squirrel, who fights the rapacious forces of the evil Gretsch, a kind of Bush-Thatcher composite with Dickensian henchmen who lays waste to the environment and enslaves the poor in backbreaking factories, as the wealthy and heartless city-dwellers in Megatropolis grow richer.
When Wirral’s mother is killed by the bulldozers that raze his woodland home to the ground, Wirral and his friends Froggo and Wilhamina set off to find the utopian island of Animalia, with Gretsch and her Lily Savage wig in hot pursuit. After several close shaves, our heroes succeed in freeing the slaves and sail victoriously to Animalia, while the animals join in a rousing chorus of ‘We All Stand Together’. […]From The Guardian, December 18, 2005, book review
Last updated on March 7, 2020