Shake Rattle and Hurl (Rotten School) by R L Stine

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Shake Rattle and Hurl (Rotten School) by R L Stine

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Shake Rattle & Hurl is unadulterated rubbish. Quite without a shred of value, it will be loved by all pre-teen boys. Full of farts, spots, vomit and snot, just about every possible variation on toilet humour is contained within. You'll hate it and they'll love it. Just give in and buy it.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: November 2006
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 0007216211

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This book is awful. It's utterly without merit. Buy it anyway.

I should explain. Shake Rattle & Hurl is one of a series of books about Bernie B and his classmates at Rotten School. Rotten School is a rotten school. Its brightest student only makes C grades. All of its students lack not only intellectual ability but also charm, manners, grace and any kind of finer feeling. They burp. They fart. They throw up. They don't wash. They leave bits of food stuck between their teeth. They cheat whenever possible. Bernie B is a particularly fine example of the Rotten School child. He is a horribly unsympathetic character and possibly the most manipulative child I have ever come across. He will use anything and anyone to get what he wants.

In Shake Rattle & Hurl, Bernie is trying to win Rotten School's talent competition for his house. The prize is a pair of tickets to see The Plopps in concert and Bernie really wants to go. To this end, he recruits Chipmunk, an amazing guitar player, but a child so shy that he throws up (sorry, "hurls") every time he is forced to perform in public. With his usual lack of empathy, Bernie B is unruffled by Chipmunk's terror. He simply puts him on stage locked inside a box.

And um... that's it. One hundred pages are devoted to Bernie putting Chipmunk through hell, just for a pair of concert tickets. Ninety of those hundred pages are toilet jokes. Every possible humorous variation on the banana skin joke and the filthy habits of pre-teen boys is presented for our delectation. The only joke missing was the Uranus joke, loved by ten-year-olds up and down the land. Actually, given the exhaustive supply of every single other bottom joke in the book, I thought Uranus was a shocking omission. The writing's dreadful. Obvious vocabulary. Obvious jokes. A flimsy plot. The book is awful. It's utterly without merit. Its one possible saving grace is that Bernie does win the day, but he also gets his comeuppance. Reading it will do your child no good whatsover.

But do books always have to do good? I don't think so. If you are the parent of a reluctant reader, and you think that reading rubbish is better than reading nothing, I should tell you this is not true. If your child was a fussy eater and ate only chocolate, you wouldn't feel that only eating chocolate was better than eating nothing. You'd think some drastic action was required. It's the same with books. However, eating chocolate every now and then does a child no harm and reading rubbish every now and then does a child no harm either. Children love toilet humour. In particular, pre-teen boys love toilet humour. Shake Rattle & Hurl has lots of it. It's cheap and it's facile but it's appealing. They will absolutely love it.

R L Stine is the creator of Goosebumps, the horror series for children. He's been called the Stephen King of children's literature and is just about the best-selling writer for children in America. While I would hate to think that books of this level became the best selling books on this side of the pond, I don't see why little boys shouldn't be allowed to read them, laugh at them, and spend endless hours irritating their mothers by repeating all the jokes ad infinitum. It's a mother's duty to grin and bear it.

Further toilet humour can be found in Andy Griffiths The Day My Bum Went Psycho, which also has no value beyond Uranus. A book with bottom jokes AND some intellectual merit is George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl.

My children would like to thank Harper Collins for sending the book. I'm grinning and bearing it.

Ah go on. Buy it for them.

Booklists.jpg Shake Rattle and Hurl (Rotten School) by R L Stine is in the Top Ten Books For Children Who Think That Farts Are Funny.

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Magda said:

I have the same sentiment regarding younger girls and Daisy Meadows' Rainbow Magic (though THAT runs for 30+ volumes!).