|Return to Ribblestrop by Andy Mulligan|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Another great book from Mr Mulligan, with nasty people chasing buried treasure under a peculiar school. Sound childish or cheap? It's certainly neither.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: February 2011|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books|
Before they even get back to Ribblestrop, Millie and her friends singularly or together hitchhike, pay their bus drivers the fare in fags, survive a car crash, set fire to a hotel, survive being eaten by a lion and other big cats, and encourage a Brazilian with a criminal record to take his unemployed circus animals to Ribblestrop. And what is Ribblestrop, you may ask?
Ribblestrop's a school? said Flavio.
Kind of, said Ruskin. It's trying to be.
It's certainly not a regular school. It's one where the children greet the staff with not an apple, but a shrunken islander's head. Where staff say things like It's like riding a bike. Exorcism is something you don't forget. And it's set in rural surroundings where the secrets of its underground world are still to be revealed - but are definitely being sought more and more urgently.
It is in fact a great establishment, and I relished returning to it. The kitchen-sink approach to absurdity, spoken by Mulligan's narration with complete sincerity, is still brilliant. Characters aren't allowed to do expected things, details come up with surprising delight, and the vivid writing makes sure I'd far rather read the reports of Ribblestrop's football team than about any flipping Quidditch match.
By the end however this is less an outrageous schooldays fiction, and more of a full-on adventure, with death-defying bravery, rooftop escapades and much subterranean drama. We're at war again, says one of the pupils. Feels good to me. It's an adventure formed by, and maintaining, the spirit of the school, though, just as it's clear the heroes and heroine are only able to save the day because of the lessons, the rum, and the lack of rules to be had at Ribblestrop. All characters then are daring, dauntless and delightful. It's not the daring among you that buy this book, but the sensible, for it is a second great, unusual, lighthearted action romp that satisfies on every level.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
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