Just William by Richmal Crompton

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Just William by Richmal Crompton

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: A classic which starts off a long-running series that will appeal to youngsters who like funny stories and vivid characters, even nearly 90 years after it was first published.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0330507455

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Whether it's a trip to the cinema, babysitting a youngster, being a page boy at a wedding, or running away from home to take a job below stairs, the 11-year old William Brown can always be relied on to create chaos and havoc wherever he goes. This short story collection (the first of 38 books) is a wonderful introduction to a classic character.

Having originally read the books perhaps 20 years ago, I picked up the boxed set of the first 10 of them at a bargain price (sadly no longer available) earlier this year but hadn't got round to opening it until earlier today due to a rather large backlog of books. Partly due to the TV series shown this week, I finally found the time to reread Just William today, and was immediately transported back to England in the 1920's. Crompton was brilliant at creating richly comic characters - notably William's older brother and sister, Robert and Ethel, along with the girl-next-door Joan and, of course, the scruffy, unkempt, hilarious title character himself. While I'd remembered the characters fondly, especially the dialogue (and William's habit of overriding objections with something rather unrelated followed by I'm simply statin' a fact, or similar, which would probably make him fit right in as a modern teenager!) I'm not sure I ever appreciated as a child just how good Crompton's narration was. (A sample, on a rat that William's Outlaws have painted for a show they're holding. It wore a bewildered expression, and occasionally licked its stripes, then obviously wished it hadn't.)

My childhood memories of the William books are that they were rather hit or miss - although I enjoyed them, I was always more of a Jennings fan myself. I'm not sure whether the series quality perhaps decreased later on, or whether I've been doing them a disservice, but this is definitely far more hit than miss. Particular stand outs are 'William the Intruder', in which William falls in love with the same girl as his brother Robert, 'The Show', which has the first of many hilarious moments from Mr Brown to round off an excellent story, and the first ever story 'The Outlaws', which sees William forced to look after a baby which he tells the rest of the Outlaws he's kidnapped in order to save face. Of course, things don't go according to plan in any of them, although there are a nice mixture of moments of triumph and despair for the youngster.

Very high recommendation.

Further reading suggestion: I think kids who enjoy the humour in the book would find an excellent modern counterpart in Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer.

Originally published on yayeahyeah.blogspot.com

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Buy Just William by Richmal Crompton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Just William by Richmal Crompton at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Just William by Richmal Crompton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Just William by Richmal Crompton at Amazon.com.


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