Pongdollop and the School Stink by Michael Broad

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Pongdollop and the School Stink by Michael Broad

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A boy and his friendly monster – too nice to be able to scare him – find his school under attack from smelly nasty creatures. A strong opening adventure, but there are small flaws to consider.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: December 2008
Publisher: Puffin
ISBN: 978-0141324531

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I can hear the parents of this land from here, saying to themselves 'why I do need a book about a monster too inept to scare his target human, when our Monsters Inc DVD hasn't worn itself out yet?'. But this book does deserve a further look.

Will is the human child here, and Urk the young beast, with supportive parents, the textbook that forms the franchise's title, but with no talent at all in freaking anybody out. The friendship between the two allows for merits and demerits. On the plus side, the pair can enter the monstrous underworld to investigate an unusual uprising against humankind that seems planned. The negative is when Will, heavily disguised as a nasty, diverts the invasion plan onto his own school.

The story and its details are perfectly set out to convey just how disgusting the world of monsters is – the glop here, the silly critters there, the emissions all over the place, the architecture trendily shaped to look like dog's messes. But there is a lot more to the book than that, with an unexpected depth and more than enough twists and turns to appeal to the target audience of under nines.

The author's own pictures are reasonable, but prove he's no da Vinci. There is a certain roughness to the writing too, but at the same time there's a big benefit to be had with the seeming artlessness that dumps the whole set-up of the series into one opening chapter and forgets it, allowing us to have a full-blown adventure in this initial volume.

The most jagged of those rough edges is provided by the bits of the Monsterbook we ourselves get to see. Some of these are fine, and carry the plot along. Others are just comic side-panels, and a couple are very disposable. The problem I have is that too many of them are just scattershot across the page, and so often hit us at the wrong beat, making the reading at times quite an awkward, jumpy experience. I am not convinced my seven-year old self would have coped properly with this.

Beyond that there is nothing to disappoint the target reader, and certainly nothing the purchasing parent need be alerted to. The book will never be a classic for the adult to look back on in fondness, and it might not have the longest shelf-life at home, but like I said, this book does deserve a further look.

We at the Bookbag must thank Puffin for our review copy.

The next step up to this, both in quality and reading ability, is Monster Makers: Electrotaur and Slashermite by Ali Sparkes.

Buy Pongdollop and the School Stink by Michael Broad at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pongdollop and the School Stink by Michael Broad at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Pongdollop and the School Stink by Michael Broad at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pongdollop and the School Stink by Michael Broad at Amazon.com.


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