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In this sequel to ‘Trouble for Trumpets’, Peter wrote the story first, so the book had a far better flow to it than its predecessor. After starting enthusiastically, I found it difficult to match the intense detailed artwork of the first book and had to adopt a quicker style in order to complete the book on time.
“As an artist, Cross is intrigued by the different possibilities of visual communication, the variety of overt and cryptic meanings that pictures can carry. The cover of his new book characteristically includes a telephone incorporated in a mountain range, a bearded head, a snail shell and a game of noughts and crosses concealed in the grass, as well as someone carrying a copy of his earlier book. In that, action pictures of miniature military operations were wreathed in carefully observed flowers and insects. Hidden faces, runes, puns, pictures within pictures abounded; the richness of the artwork invited and repaid lengthy examination.”
“Inevitably the extraordinary visual exuberance of the earlier book proves difficult to live up to… but there is still much to delight and amuse – a wonderfully ornamental Pullman train pulls out of a flower-banked Victorian-gothic station; pastiche Chinese landscapes are framed by a lacquered screen, and there is a series of puns and allusions, at once comic and mysterious.”
Julia Briggs – The Times Literary Supplement