Measle and the Slitherghoul by Ian Ogilvy

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Measle and the Slitherghoul by Ian Ogilvy

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The son of a major magician has a fourth published adventure, against the giant living bogey that a young warlock made by mistake eight hundred years ago. Entertaining enough for its target audience...
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: June 2007
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0192726162

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Sometimes one has the most unusual reasons for wanting a book to be really good, as you might find later.

This book comes down in the category of young reader's gross-out comedy. Why else have a hero called Measle in the first place? His father is the most powerful magician in the world, although his pesky toddler sister is a close second it seems, and his mother the world's best fount of reviving magical spirit, or mana. However, while Measle, and the friendly old house-keeper Nanny Flannel may know about magic, they have none themselves.

The household is completed by the dog, and the weird little idiotic wrathmonk known as Iggy Niggle. Wrathmonks, it hardly needs saying, are magical humanoids gone wrong, who can be identified by each having their own permanent raincloud drenching them night and day from a couple of feet above their heads. Iggy is a very daft one, good only for killing aphids with his magical breath, and continuously calling Measle Mumps. How silly.

Anyway, I only summarise that because, like myself, you might not have come across the first three in this series. Fans will be more interested in what happens in this volume, and the answer is as follows - with the magical threesome of the family at a conference at the South Pole, Measle is at threat by a magical entity, which is...

To be blunt, a giant bogey.

Eight hundred years ago, almost to the day, a large-nosed and very powerful young warlock was dabbling with spells he shouldn't even have known about, and accidentally brought some of his, er, nasal excretion, to life. This of course then engulfed said magician, and several lower life forms, while being imprisoned for the interim time.

Now, though, it's on the warpath - like a certain Doctor Who baddy, absorbing all those crooks Measle's earlier adventures have imprisoned during its escape, and using their minds to form a slimy, snotty revenge.

Now there is of course much merit in having a giant bogey on the loose, and youngsters will get a lot out of this book for that reason. And to be fair to Ian Ogilvy - yes, the Ian Ogilvy, star of TV and film - he gets a hefty adventure out of the concept, but here me and the real target audience of the book divide.

This is not one for adult readers reverting to juvenile genre fiction for the charming delight that can sometimes provide. The book appears over-written, the major twists and good turns too far apart, with some minor details told to us twice, and generally a touch verbosely.

For the expected readers, however, I'm sure this is a hoot. The idea is of course right up their street, the adventure does cover lots of ground - characters dropping in and out, surprising turns and reveals here and there. I don't think for them the book would be too long, and for those that give testimony on the proof copy that this series has brought to them the pleasures of reading, this would be highly original, and a firm favourite.

This volume is successfully self-contained, and while not the ideal starting place for the series can easily be read on its own. The artwork is a further plus, firming the odd characters, which are perfectly adequately written, in our minds. I would recommend it for the nine- to twelve-year old market, but not their parents - not for any real juvenile bad taste, just that it is solely the preserve of the young, due to style, content and structure of plotting.

It is good, but not as brilliant as I had hoped. So my quip about it being ex-Templar-y will have to wait.

Booklists.jpg Measle and the Slitherghoul by Ian Ogilvy is in the Top Ten Books For Children Who Think That Farts Are Funny.

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