Monster! (Dirty Bertie) by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts
|Monster! (Dirty Bertie) by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Three more stories from this never-ending series; I wouldn't say one here was the best ever, but the book is still dependably jolly.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 96||Date: October 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
Two things in fiction for the under-sevens seem to be very, very unlikely, at this stage. One is that Dirty Bertie does something sensible, like what his parents tell him, or succeeds for the right reasons at school, or perhaps tidies up. The other unlikely thing seems to be that the Dirty Bertie franchise runs out of ideas. Here are three more stories, for a lively spot on the transition between being read to and reading by yourself, and the quality is pretty much as good as before. Yes, it's evident that in these pages, Bertie and his friends are just as bad as before.
The title story finds the trio frustrated at not being given the job of working the face-painting tent at the school fair, but can they possibly be happy with the lucky dip for long? We watch Bertie's confusion at busking – well, anyone could think a hat full of money on the pavement was just there randomly and worth picking up, surely? – and his determination to ply the trade with his friends. And we leave those two pals behind as the Bertie household all try and climb a mountain on a break away.
That last is not the greatest example of Bertie's adventures – there is no mention of bodily functions, or doing the wrong thing, but he does get to win the day as all good (and bad) young children would wish to. These stories are all quite slight, let's face it – but that's fine, as they're slight for a reason. An adult could, if they wanted, read all this aloud in just under half an hour – but the young audience wouldn't thank them for that. Put the time and energy into your vocalisation and you'd have a sturdy little drama that would be quite the humdinger for the right age range. And ten minutes later you'd be asked for one more, then one more… There's no sense of the creators rationing their talents – Alan MacDonald has the right vim and energy, and a strong quip about Scott of the Antarctic for the adults, while first-credited artist David Roberts always has his work cut out, as no double-page spread is allowed to lack a picture. His way with characterful line is superlative, even if mother Bertie could do with a better bra on the last page here.
So while the third story lacks much agency from Bertie, and little in the way of trouble that he has caused, it's not an utterly disposable episode. And the strength and reliability of this series is not to be sniffed at. Buy this, or the others – I can see pester power inciting you to buy them all. Which wouldn't be something Bertie himself would do – because it would be a good thing.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The last collection was Fame!.
You can read more book reviews or buy Monster! (Dirty Bertie) by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Monster! (Dirty Bertie) by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts at Amazon.com.
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