There's only one problem - Perijee won't stop growing.
Then the authorities try to hunt him down and through his fear, Perijee disappears and starts causing trouble. Caitlin must leave home and travel across the country to try and convince Perijee to stop destroying everything before it's too late.
Perijee & Me is Ross Montgomery's third book for young readers and yet again he has struck gold. His first two books, Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door and The Tornado Chasers, are among me favourite children's books of recent years, and this third offering has now made it on to that list as well. All three books have something very special about them that I find hard to describe. I have the same feelings when I try to describe John Boyne's The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brockett and Noah Barleywater Runs Away. They are contemporary fairy tales, with fantastic character studies, humour, dark fringes, and magical fantasy elements (without the actual magic) and the kind of stories that I think the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen might be creating if they were alive and writing in the 21st Century.
Perijee & Me is an enchanting story that will especially appeal to any reader, child or adult, who has ever felt lonely or who has felt that they have fallen short of the expectations of others. It is about Caitlin, a girl with no friends and 'absent' parents who stumbles across something special, in much the same way as Elliott does in E.T. In fact, there are elements of Perijee & Me that pay homage to Spielberg's masterpiece, as well as one of my all time favourite stories, Ted Hughes' The Iron Man.
After a particularly violent storm, Caitlin discovers a strange creature lying close-to-death on the beach, surrounded by thousands of festering prawns that have been washed ashore. Her attempts to protect her new friend Perijee from what we would know as exploitation are sadly unsuccessful, and there's this moment where, like in E.T. the authorities arrive on the scene, but that's where the similarities end. Perijee is no meek and fragile creature, and the armed men who storm Caitlin's house very quickly discover that they are woefully unprepared. Can Caitlin defy all the odds and save Perijee from the world, and possibly more importantly, save the world from Perijee?
I hope that Perijee & Me brings Ross Montgomery the wider recognition that he so deserves. Despite his debut being shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book of the Year Award back in 2013, he still falls under the radar of many people who buy books for children, whilst in my opinion he should be up there with likes of John Boyne and Frank Cottrell Boyce. I expect there will be a lot of readers who, on finishing Perijee & Me, will venture out to get their hands on his previous two books.
My thanks go to the lovely people at Faber for sending me a copy of Perijee & Me to read.