Sunday 17 April 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Bibi Blundermuss and the Tree Across the Cosmos by Andrew Durkin

Bibi Blunderbuss and the Tree Across the Cosmos
Author: Andrew Durkin
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy / Adventure
Publication Date: 11th March 2022

Book Description:
Twelve-year-old Bibi Blundermuss is terrified of trees. Being around them makes her dizzy and sick to her stomach—even comatose. So, when her only to chance to find her missing parents means climbing a magic tree in the forest near her home, she almost doesn’t take it. 

When Bibi grits her teeth and scales the trunk, the tree grows—so violently that she and her cat Eek are catapulted into another world. Here, she befriends a herd of elk, on the run from a pack of vicious white lions. And she discovers, to her amazement, that her mother is a witch who has been protecting the elk with a poison flower spell, which keeps the lions away.

Yet the longer Bibi stays in the world of the elk and lions, the less sure she is that her mother is truly on the elks’ side—or even on Bibi’s side. In the end, a dangerous journey into the lions’ lair and a reunion with both parents uncovers a secret that changes Bibi’s life forever. Drawn into an epic snowbound battle against an army of zombie trees, she must face her greatest fear to discover her greatest power..

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Bibi Blunderbuss never quite understood why her parents uprooted her from Portland to their new woodland house, and she won't be getting any answers from them anytime soon as they vanished six months ago, which was around the same time her nightmares started. Bibi has hylophobia, a fear of trees or forests. Since all her friends stopped calling her after her hylophobia started, she seeks comfort from Grandma Ivy and her cat, Ekaterina (Eek). On one eventful morning, however, Bibi's medication management routine doesn't go quite as planned after she witnesses Eek being chased into the forest by a swarm of bees. With Eek in danger, Bibi makes the decision not to take her medication as it makes it hard for her to think straight, and Eek needed her fully focused.

What Bibi discovers as she enters the forest to find Eek is beyond her wildest imagination. Not only does she happen upon an unusual tree, she also hears the voice of her mother calling to her, telling her she needs her help and that she needs to climb the tree. With her fear of trees and her anxiety kicking into overdrive, Bibi isn't sure what to do. Of course she wants nothing more than to find her parents. But can she trust the voice calling out to her? Is it really her mother's voice? With Eek taking the first step by jumping onto a tree branch and the tree suddenly starting to grow, taking Eek into oblivion, Bibi is left with no choice but to follow suit. The tree takes Bibi and Eek into outer space and deposits them on another planet before disappearing again, leaving them stranded.

With Bibi having lost track of Eek in a forest full of dead trees, she quickly discovers that hylophobia is the least of her worries as she has stumbled upon a war between a herd of elk and a pride of lions, the latter of which are trying to eliminate the former. Bibi gets caught up in a battle of survival while trying to keep herself and Eek safe and also trying to locate her parents. After being rescued by an Elk named Corineus, Bibi discovers that her mother isn't who she thought she was, and her mother just might be the only person who can stop the war and put an end to the lions. However, many of the Elk think Bibi's mother betrayed them and sided with the lions, though Bibi refuses to accept this. To prove everyone wrong, she decides to find her mother and find out just what she has got herself caught up in.

Having been away from her mother for months and having only just discovered there are things about her mother she knew nothing of, will Bibi truly be able to push aside her doubts and trust the person she has known her whole life?


There is never a dull moment in this book. It's action and adventure from start to finish. The story is straightforward, and the characters likeable. I liked the inclusion of Bibi's Zulu heritage. It wasn't an extensive exploration, but the little mention here and there was a nice addition. 

Great imagery. The world building was fabulous. Very vivid descriptions made the setting materialise as you read along. The magic tree gave me a real Jack and the Beanstalk vibe. You could see Bibi and Cornelius fleeing from the Trolliclawians. It was very visual, and that's just how I like it.


I loved the inclusion of the other planet, but the introduction was very sudden. We transitioned from Bibi's reality to this other reality so quickly that it seemed a little implausible. If you exclude Eek, there were no indications to a supernatural existence that when it did happen it just seemed as though you jumped into another story completely. Some indication or clues to something unusual or otherworldly would have been nice so that the transition didn't seem so out of place.

I wasn't quite sure what to make of the world of talking animals and no explanation as to the reason why these animals were talking. I did wonder if it was because of Bibi's background, in which case perhaps it wasn't a world of talking animals and the animals could only talk to Bibi and her family. This wasn't explored as the interaction between the animals in the book did not extend beyond Bibi and her family.

I also found it strange that Bibi was surprised about her mother's revelation as to her heritage and supernatural gifts, yet she didn't question the talking cat living with her, as though it was normal to have a talking cat. Again, it made me wonder if everyone would be able to talk to Eek.

It became a little repetitive when Bibi arrived on this new planet. Sometimes, it seemed as though we were going around in circles as Bibi was trying to find her mother and understand just what was going on in this new world of hers. The story dragged on a little and these prolonged intervals killed some of the suspense, especially with characters just revealing surprises as opposed to having Bibi discover these life changing moments or incidents on her own.


This was an enjoyable read. At times, it defied logic, mostly due to lack of explanation, but it has an ensemble of likeable characters and wonderful magical moments full of action and adventure.


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