Stanley and the Magic Lamp (Flat Stanley) by Jeff Brown and Rob Biddulph
|Stanley and the Magic Lamp (Flat Stanley) by Jeff Brown and Rob Biddulph|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: This series entry does suffer from the character not being as he should be, but it's still worth a quick look.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 112||Date: July 2017|
It was far too recently that I picked up Flat Stanley and met with a character now fifty years old for the first time, and found out how he got to be flat and what happened as a result. Bizarrely, however, despite the success of that first book it was twenty full years before the author picked up the pen to give Stanley this sequel. Or perhaps it's not such a surprise – without giving too much away, the character had met with a certain change at the end of book one, and therefore wasn't exactly ready for more of the same. Well, over the decades there have been six official books by Jeff Brown, and this was the first instance where I could find out for myself if I was ready for more of the same…
Here, then, Stanley is – to point it mildly – not flat. He's just an ordinary boy, and demands extraordinary adventures to make him worth reading. This book revolves around him uncovering a genie in a lamp he'd found on a beach one day and that he was saving to be a present for his mother, Mrs Lambchop. His level-headed parents demand he and his brother finish off their homework before making any wishes, but that happens, the family gains a pet, and then goes out for the day in the company of the genie, forever tweaking reality at their wishes' command. But everything they ask for seems to have an unexpected side.
The unexpected here includes an extended scene riffing on the personality of then-prominent sportsman John McEnroe, which does show that where the gentle moralistic side to book one hadn't aged, this has – just for different reasons. The expected perhaps includes a return to the crime-busting adventures of the first book, as another gang of thieves has to be interrupted. And again we're back to square one for the conclusion.
As for my conclusion, it is that these short stories are too average to have ever stood out were it not for the renown of the title character, who – to repeat – is also now an average kid and not what he was known for. Take the flatness away from the lad and what you get is, paradoxically, flat. This is a reasonable book – again given many new decent, digital illustrations for 2017's new editions – but previously we didn't have to settle for 'reasonable', we had really good. Obviously Mr Brown had little idea at the time of writing his debut that he would regret making his character lose what made him special, but he did, and what we're left with is nothing special either. It's just reasonably good.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Beards From Outer Space by Gareth P Jones is a read for the same age range we've enjoyed recently.
You can read more book reviews or buy Stanley and the Magic Lamp (Flat Stanley) by Jeff Brown and Rob Biddulph at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Stanley and the Magic Lamp (Flat Stanley) by Jeff Brown and Rob Biddulph at Amazon.com.
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