Casper Candlewacks in the Claws of Crime! by Ivan Brett
|Casper Candlewacks in the Claws of Crime! by Ivan Brett|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Casper is the brightest person in the village of Corne-on-the-Kobb, so naturally he has to solve the mystery of the stolen sword. Then his little sister goes missing too, and it's all his fault!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: January 2012|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
|External links: [caspercandlewacks.com Author's website]|
This is the second outing for Casper and his friend Lamp, who likes inventing things, but don't worry if you haven't read the first book: this one is fine as a stand-alone. Casper's village is chock-full of idiots, who spend their time doing such ridiculous things you wonder how most of them managed to survive to adulthood. But the idiocy in these books does not encourage the reader, or indeed the author, to sneer: rather, it is a fond and glorious celebration of eccentricity taken to such extremes that it almost seems a different form of sanity. And it seems little lasting damage is done, either. People fall down, over and into things regularly, but never seem to suffer anything worse than a few cuts and bruises. A poor old lady in a wheelchair is thumped over the head, but the next time we see her she's grinning at the crowd and slapping her head to demonstrate what happened. And Casper's mum is such a bad cook she doesn't even take food out of the tin before cooking it, but no one starves. All in all, reading and enjoying the antics of the inhabitants of Corne-on-the-Kobb requires a major suspension of disbelief, which is of course not going to be a problem for the majority of the confident readers these books are written for. Indeed, the only difficulty such readers are going to have is to get through a whole paragraph of the book without dashing off to find someone to read a choice expression or joke to.
So, to the plot. A famous French cat burglar is in the area, and the villagers are taking it in turns to guard the bejewelled sword Sir Gossamer D'Glaze bequeathed to the village round about the year 1400. Needless to say the sword is stolen, and Casper and Lamp set off to find it, using the youthful inventor's lie detector (which requires raw eggs to work effectively. Don't ask.). The evidence suggests a real cat is involved, and as Casper's baby sister Cuddles can spot one at a thousand yards, she is co-opted to the detective team. Unfortunately, the burglar then steals her, and leaves in her place a nasty ransom note, pinned to the door of the vault.
Various people are under suspicion, including a real Frenchman, who claims grammar can prove his innocence (incorrectly, according to modern French usage, but the Académie Française would approve) and eventually Casper stakes everything on a final, desperate attempt to uncover the identity of the thief. Will he find his baby sister safe and well? Will Lamp and his true love live happily ever after? And will somebody please get rid of all the extremely amateur detectives who invaded the village as soon as they heard there was a twenty thousand pound reward for recovering the sword?
This book is silly, in the best and most positive sense, and its ludicrous situations and whimsical word-play will prove very popular with both boys and girls. Warmly recommended.
Corne-on-the-Kobb is probably just down the road from that other home of the dotty, Lamonic Bibber. Try You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum! by Andy Stanton for more zany and anarchic fun.
You can read more book reviews or buy Casper Candlewacks in the Claws of Crime! by Ivan Brett at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Casper Candlewacks in the Claws of Crime! by Ivan Brett at Amazon.com.
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