Under Town (Edgar & Ellen) by Charles Ogden

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Under Town (Edgar & Ellen) by Charles Ogden

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Those pesky kids face something or someone even more pesky and pranksterish in this third franchise book. I was left not knowing much more about who those pesky kids might be, which didn't help.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 160 Date: October 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
ISBN: 978-1847383228

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The book review gods can still offer surprises, after all this time. The other month I was surprised by a junior goth-lite read wherein the female protagonist was fighting against some property development she didn't fancy the idea of. And here is a pair of other NIMBYs, for the even younger age-group, the eight year olds. Is there a whole genre of this stuff I just wasn't aware of?

It would really be pushing it to describe Edgar and Ellen as Goths. They're more or less just pranksters, blackly comic scamps, who look to have come from a Tim Burton film. And this book is not merely Edgar and Ellen versus Bureaucracy, for in it they find the surprise of something or someone coming from underground; something or someone who is able to steal their plans for capers, and their prankster equipment, and carry the stunts off with even more finesse. And even the revelation of who or what that is is not the end of the twists.

I can't actually go into the characters of E and E much, however, for there is nothing in here to help the newcomer learn anything about them. The twins, their pet, the series' major baddies – all passed me by without me being given any opportunity at playing catch-up.

I can take a look at the writing, which is in no way offensive for eight year olds, but I feel could have had more to it. It rushes the reader through to some form of conclusion at full pelt, and is broken down into an inordinate number of chapters, practically all of which are shorter than the four pages of contents given to listing them all.

All in all, the volume had a feel of being a rudimentary exercise in expanding a franchise. There was nothing particularly disagreeable, and to those who know what has gone before in the books before this, or the more recent cartoon series that has caused the whole series to be reissued, this is probably a worthwhile purchase, but I repeat, the newcomer is hampered in not having a clue as to what we're witnessing.

It did successfully replicate the sense of a cartoon turned into book form. By which I mean for the target audience a breathless rash of scenes, all writ large and humorously, with the boldest of basic strokes to define people, places, etc. And for me, the high and maintained level of pacing, the low and maintained level of character and development, and the lack of inclusivity all combined to make me feel I had been dumped at the midway point of a brash cartoon series and left to my own devices. I'll leave you to decide how valuable such an experience might be.

To those who know Edgar and Ellen and need to read them on the page, this book can muster up three and a half Bookbag stars, but please – take off one star if you come to this book afresh, and lose half a mark for every year over the age of 8 for the child you're buying it for.

We would like to thank Simon and Schuster for our review copy.

Oh, and the aforementioned anti-building black read for the 8-to-11s was The Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds by P J Bracegirdle.

Buy Under Town (Edgar & Ellen) by Charles Ogden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Under Town (Edgar & Ellen) by Charles Ogden at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Under Town (Edgar & Ellen) by Charles Ogden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Under Town (Edgar & Ellen) by Charles Ogden at Amazon.com.


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