||Bloomsbury Children’s Books
If you or your readers haven’t caught onto this series yet I would urge you to do so. While we all know it’s important to have narratives which deal with significant issues or concepts, it’s equally important to just have a chuckle in my opinion – and Maudlin Towers certainly does this ‘par excellence’.
Very reminiscent of Ronald Searle’s fabulous St Trinian’s and his collaboration with Geoffrey Willans on the Molesworth series, Maudlin Towers and it’s chief characters Mildew and Sponge are dim-witted inept students in an outstandingly chaotic school which always seems to be running into adventures of the strangest ilk.
In this new adventure the school is inundated by some rather odd girls and their teacher while at the same time Mildew and Sponge witness what they at first believe to be a meteor crashing to earth. As the story unravels it becomes apparent that the ‘meteor’ is in fact a space ship and its occupants have dispersed – coincidence? I think not. When a second space vehicle arrives complete with large scary but hilarious mechanical spiders the pace quickens and predictably further rumbustifcations ensue.
I cannot say I detect any deep meaningful concepts (except perhaps to not always be mentally consumed by the thought of biscuits!) but it is all raging good fun wonderfully written and illustrated by Priestley.
Do your kiddos a favour and get some humour into their bookshelves – indeed why not buy all three if you have not already done so!
Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.
||Bloomsbury Children’s Books
RRP : $14.99 AU $16.99 NZ
Readers return to the wacky world of Maudlin Towers with Mildew and Sponge as they attempt to save their mouldering school from closure, due to its pecuniary troubles. Ever since the funds for the renovations disappeared in time (see the first book) there seems to be no solution to the threat of closure. That is until Mildew and Sponge realise the possibility of the legendary Captain Greenbeard, fearsome pirate (and as it turns out, Mildew’s ancestor) having buried his treasure nearby.
It is rather unfortunate however that it’s not just the bumbling pair hunting treasure. Due to Kenningworth’s big mouth and newspaper coverage the school is taken over by pirates from Greenbeard’s crew who are also after the treasure.
As usual despite their ineptitude Mildew and Sponge manage by dint of accident rather than brilliance to save the day. These are hilarious stories which are sort of a mash up of Molesworth and comic horror which many readers will find a really enjoyable read.
Recommended for able readers (given the word play throughout etc) from around ten years upwards.
Allen & Unwin Australia
||Children’s and Young Adult
Yes, this is a ‘Christmas’ book but it’s not the last in my countdown. This one arrived today and when Small and I went to the pool for an hour or so this afternoon, because I didn’t want to get in the water today, I grabbed the first book off the pile – and read it within an hour.
So after that subtle recommendation, let’s explore some more. I am not familiar with Chris Priestley’s work – no doubt, because the supernatural/paranormal genre is not one for which I usually opt. But reading a little of his bio, it seems this ‘master of the macabre’ loves nothing better than to take a traditional Gothic horror story and put a complete new twist on it.
And this he has done with A Christmas Carol. I really like Dickens: but I’m not an Egghead knowing all there is to know about every book, and while I like A Christmas Carol it has never been my favourite, and I had completely forgotten about the two ‘wild’ children hidden underneath the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Ignorance and Want – these two feral children become the focus of this side stepping of the original story, taking the reader into the dark and disturbing world of Dickens’ London.
Written in a style that will totally captivate those young readers who relish a bit of spookiness, this story is new, fresh and engaging while completely retaining the pervading message of the original novel.
I’m giving this a big thumbs up and will definitely be promoting it to Middle School next year – creepy but not horrific, matter of fact but not graphic (about the dire circumstances of London’s poor) and totally resolved in a satisfactory manner.
I’d be grabbing this one for your library shelves – readers around 11 to 15 would love it I believe – it’s a brilliant segue into hardcore Dickens!