Measle and the Doompit by Ian Ogilvy

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Measle and the Doompit by Ian Ogilvy

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A boy, his dog and his wrathmonk battle through an alien world of terrors to reunite with his schoolfriends, as a school trip reveals hidden horrors. The book is a sprightly fantasy for the 8-12s, with verve aplenty in the telling.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: June 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0192726230

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Iggy Niggle, believe it or not, is about to be proven correct about something. Iggy, you might remember, or care to learn, is the world's most inept wrathmonk – inhabiting a dog kennel, and sharing his species' permanent taunt of a raining thundercloud perched in the space above his head, but with none of the magic he is supposed to have. Still, when it comes to being worried about his master and best friend (sorry, only friend) Measle going away on a school trip, he is closer to the truth than anyone could tell.

The school trip starts off sounding like the perfect lark – Measle's favourite teacher and a classful of children going out into the wilds. All is present and correct at the outset – the tiring journey fuelled by motorway service food, the bunk-bed dorms on arrival, the pillow fights, the mediocre dinner. Then, all of a sudden – where are the humans? Why no mobile phone signal?

Things get worse for Measle before they can ever try and get better, and it soon is revealed the whole thing is a plan of his worst enemy, Toby Jugg, no less. Can Measle win through, rescue all his friends – including a hint at – shock, horror – a girlfriend, and get back home to his family?

The reader certainly has a greater and more entertaining time than Measle in trying to get through the adventure, as the series continues to have a jolly sprightliness in the telling, and a fine and gentle touch when it comes to the quirkiness it needs. There is a feeling in my mind, however, based only on this and the previous, fourth volume I was reading this time last year, that this edition is a bit of a breakaway from the series norm.

It did not strike me as ideal at the beginning that Measle's entertaining family, the people closest to him that have all the magical talents, was left so far in the background, nor especially that he himself was flung so firmly into such an alien fantasy world that takes him far beyond the previous adventure, of him, anyone who could help, and a singular villain, battling in what was much more like real life. But this does allow our hero to encounter a wide range of nightmare scenarios and nasties, and our author's talents to shine through. Not everyone could come up with such a coherent and enjoyable story of the adventures of a young boy, expected but unable to have magic at his fingertips, his dog, his ridiculous wrathmonk, and their jelly beans.

The worlds of potential threat to Measle and co are fully realised – the descriptions veering perhaps on the could need more once or twice, rather than the just enough, but the pace of the adventure is thus maintained, and for me the lovely plotting provided a very finely balanced mix of being a few pages ahead of the action at times, and being surprised by sudden reappearances, new hidden thrills, and more at others.

Those thrills I think would do little to scare the 8 year old – OK, they might worry over the poor dog Tinker getting a foot aimed at him quite a few times, but there's a logical reason for that. Indeed, the under 14s should be perfectly entertained by this entry to the cycle. There are just the quickest of hints that previous adventures have occurred – once we get over the revival of Jugg from past volumes I haven't read – but this one, if found fresh, could only encourage the young reader, before they decide they have grown out of such whimsical fantasy adventures, to go back to cover prior ground.

The fourth one, to return to the recap, was a little on the thinly-plotted but over-written side, and went much more to the gentle gross-out comedy than this story does. There's still a sense that the book could have had a greater shelf-life, and appeal to a wider age range – this tends towards a secret read for me and not one I would dare reveal on public transport, say – but for the short time it would sit in a youngster's library it would be providing a jolly and clever enough lark to be one of the higher quality tomes on the shelf.

In the end I decided to let it off allowing Polly to say something (regarding the jelly beans) she shouldn't by rights know, and credit the book with both a brilliant subterranean ending, and four and a half stars.

I would like to thank the OUP for sending the Bookbag a review copy.

If this book appeals then why not try Blood Beast by Darren Shan?

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Buy Measle and the Doompit by Ian Ogilvy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Measle and the Doompit by Ian Ogilvy at


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