It took us quite a while – two months of nightly bedtime reading – but last night my son and I finally finished Seamus and Tessa: The World is Just the Beginning, and we were both left wishing for more. One of my constant refrains on the subject of fiction – of fantasy and science fiction in particular – is the lack of innovation in nearly all of it. You’re making stuff up, so make stuff up! Don’t just give me leprechauns again, even if this time they have machine guns (looking at you, Artemis Fowl). Let’s see you really use your imagination.
In Seamus and Tessa, Jim Maher veers towards imagination overload. He invents, he innovates, he makes stuff up with a vengeance and with only a couple of exceptions (there are pirates), everything in this amazing fantasy novel is fresh and original. Kids don’t just eat ice cream, they prefer the Peaches and Gravy flavor. There are snow farmers who work with special seeds that glow and only grow in the snow and have to be moved every twenty minutes or so. There are bald patches that are critically important, and life or death haircuts, and fire wolves and a variety of “scrubbas” and scientists who live in their labs in the bellies of undersea beasts. It’s not only a work of maximum creativity, but it’s also funny and fun and wild and outrageous.
I can only imagine that living with this book in his head must have been even more exhilarating and joyous than just being someone else reading it. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to be a writer and for that reason it’s exactly the kind of book you want your kid to read.