Mr Gum and the Cherry Tree by Andy Stanton

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Mr Gum and the Cherry Tree by Andy Stanton

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Another mystery for Polly and the friendly gingerbread schoolmaster to solve, as her entire village ups sticks and moves to worship a tree spirit.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1405252188

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"Woe, woe, woe, and a bottle of glum" declares a character in this story, and you would to if you shared the sensibilities of Polly, her friend Alan Taylor (the ridiculously named gingerbread man who serves as electrified schoolmaster to some ex-goblins), or any right minded person. The problem is that all the right minded people have switched to being wrong minded. For the old granny they call Old Granny has declared the Old Times back, and taken the entire village population (except for a magician who vanishes from the story) to a sacred glade in a nearby wood, where a tree spirit of Old is trying to enslave them.

What - or who - is behind the cherry tree (or rather, sat in it)? How can you get rampant breeding and copious babies in a book for such a young audience? And how can the truth, which is generally a lemon meringue, now be found in a chewy sweet - maybe?

I know there are still some people for whom that will make no sense. They should jump on board the ride to Lamonic Bibber, whether in these pages or at any other possible juncture. This, the book declares, is Andy Stanton's seventh book, and I've read all nine. (The publishers ignore a World Book Day Mr Gum edition, and he forgets a primer for even younger readers from another publishing house.) Said ride takes you to a brilliantly daffy world of juvenile fiction, and it's great to say this volume does not lose anything for being so far down the series.

The word play is finely measured so the words are wordful and the play very playful indeed. The sense of humour is humorous throughout, with every page practically having a success on - and the sense more than adequately senseless. And the story provides for twists and turns perfectly judged for the under tens reading this - and for those in their late 30s, like myself.

It would help to be familiar with the series so far, so returning characters are both expected but still very welcome. But this mixture of daft names, daft action and even dafter burp-filled songs - as before - is a book we can devour in an hour, but still want to read over and over again.

There's absolutely nothing to make the parent hesitate in buying this for a passing child - whether for a little girl called Peter, or an investment for a baby like Elsie Wa-Wa. All those births I mentioned? Insect life-cycles, and most relevant to the plot. Unlike Turkey the Flag Popper.

I must thank Egmont once again for my review copy.

You can file books like these next to Philip Ardagh’s Grubtown Tales, if you like abusing the alphabet. More daft goblins are in the series by David Melling

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