When I started reading this book, I honestly wasn’t expecting such a sharp, grown-up, witty murder-mystery involving a hedgehog, a badger, and a pig.
Jefferson Ponsonby-Smythe, the hedgehog, is a gentle little soul who lives with many other walking-talking animals in the Animal Kingdom, which is separated by about seven miles to where the humans live. And the problem Jefferson has is he went to get his hair cut and found his hairdresser – Mr Edgar (the badger) – murdered, and is being falsely accused of the crime.
Jefferson goes on the run with his friend Gilbert (the pig), hunting down the real human killers in the nearby human world. And, along the way, the animals take a package holiday with lots of weird and wonderful characters, uncover a farming conspiracy, evade the police (all Great Dane dogs), and eat way too many croissants.
Gilbert the pig is laugh-out-loud hilarious in some parts of the book, and he balances out the actually quite serious tone of this novel. Because, as much as Jefferson appears to be a book for children, there is a very strong veganism message within its pages. Also, there is quite graphic descriptions of violence and death, so I’d say this is definitely an Upper middle-grade read and not for younger children at all.
As a translated text by Andersen Press, Jefferson is really pacey, full of nuanced life observations and rich animal characters. It’s no ordinary tale, so if you’re looking for something exceedingly quirky that will stretch your reading skills, give Jefferson a go!