The main protagonist in the story is Sixteen-Face John, an unconventional shaman from the Arctic Circle who loves drinking Coca Cola and reading magazines.
In the Arctic, only babies in the womb can hear the wondrous melodies. John soon learns the child he and his wife are expecting, Soonchild, cannot hear the World Songs and cannot therefore come out of the womb.
John is now a man on a mission and he sets out to find the World Songs. The reader follows the shaman’s perilous journey across the frozen landscapes of the Arctic.
The tale then takes a dramatic twist when the shaman finds out he’s got a competition from a demon. The evil Yiwok wants to destroy the World Songs and wipe out the Earth, and our hero must face a deadly battle against him.
Alexis Deacon’s magical illustrations add to this fantastical tale about the importance of songs. The illustrations are pencil sketches of the protagonist, animals, spirits and Arctic landscapes.
Lyrical images of a variety of good-natured animals populate the book’s pages: a polar bear thoughtfully looking down; a one-ton walrus napping on the edge of a cliff; a small creature with a pear-shaped face and stitched lips.
Released on 1 March 2012, Russell Hoban’s Soonchild is priced at £9.99 and published by Walker Books