The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Bash Street Bandit (Book 4) by Steven Butler and Steve May (illustrator)

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The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Bash Street Bandit (Book 4) by Steven Butler and Steve May (illustrator)

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Another exceedingly brisk and brusque adventure for the masterful menace.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: February 2015
Publisher: Puffin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780141355825

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Something is wrong in Beanotown. You'd normally think that the only thing wrong about the place is Dennis the Menace – his dastardly deeds and novel naughtiness. But no – this time it's worse. Someone is being a menace to everyone and it isn't even Dennis. The Colonel's garden gnomes are all bottom-up, and even the park plants spell out Bum-Face. And our hero has no idea who is out-menacing him. It's up to him and his naughty Gnasher to try and work out what is causing everyone – Softie or not – to be so worried.

Without giving anything away, I did actually wonder if this book – the fourth in the series – was the last, but I can sleep safe knowing a fifth will never be more than six months off. This does seem to me to be the pinnacle of the series, for many reasons. Without having read the second one, last time out we were losing the Menacing Manual that was the whole idea of the series. But here Dennis is celebrating his year's challenge of writing a diary of his menacing for a school project, by continuing – chatting to us, his admiring subjects and adoring pupils. There's not that much menacing for us to be aspiring towards on these pages, but there is the strongly-felt words of encouragement and warning from the maestro himself.

What also leads me to rate this book highly, even with a good standard previously attained, is what it brought me, the adult reader. If I had no idea what the end result of the story was going to be, then what hope the really young, novice or reluctant reader this series aims at? If I can laugh at the clever punchline of the adventure, then how could a young reader resist? And if I can skip over the problem of the reactive lead character, and enjoy what he still gets up to and what he gives us as regards his learned advice, then surely there is little to fault in the eyes of the target audience?

And that's what it boils down to – I cannot see a single problem with this story, inasmuch as it will appeal to the young. Still prevalent are the huge jumps in font size, the portraits, the OTT warnings and exaggerations. Still here is the energy of the story and its telling, and still here are very recognisable thoughts and opinions Dennis shares with his readers – all conveyed brilliantly in both image and words. By being a really quite surprising stretch away from the norm of the series as I saw it, this still joins in with the fun of the other three books, and ultimately inspires me to rate the whole lot highly. Many might not approve, but I thought this was a very clever and cheeky story, and one well worth recommending.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

The series began here. If you want something a bit more feminine, we can give a highly vocal mention of Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco by Ruth Fitzgerald.

Buy The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Bash Street Bandit (Book 4) by Steven Butler and Steve May (illustrator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Bash Street Bandit (Book 4) by Steven Butler and Steve May (illustrator) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Bash Street Bandit (Book 4) by Steven Butler and Steve May (illustrator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Diary of Dennis the Menace: Bash Street Bandit (Book 4) by Steven Butler and Steve May (illustrator) at Amazon.com.


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