Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt
|Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt
|Category: Confident Readers
|Reviewer: John Lloyd
|Summary: The sixth book in this series would appear to show no signs of slacking off, as an unusual ghost makes itself known to the neighbourhood at night.
|Date: January 2014
|Publisher: Jelly Pie
The clock is ticking… and that's not the only noise it makes when it's the one in the belltower of Odd Street School. When everyone in Agatha's gang of girlies is woken in the middle of the night by the clock bell chiming far too many times to make chronological sense, one of them dreams it is a ghost, hastening the passage of time and making them age. That might not be too bad, as nasty Gwendoline lives too far away and wouldn't mature at the same rate, surely? But then… would you really want to hurry up to become one of the geriatric, and very weird, schoolmistresses, or someone like Agatha's dad, whose sole intent seems to be to buy the cheapest, and very weird, breakfast cereal…?
Yes, we're in the realms of junior fiction where a cereal box can have an influence on the story – ie the weird and wacky world of cleverly inventive, you-won't-see-it-coming (but-if-you-do-you-will-still-be-grinning-manically) creativity. We're in the kingdom of the briskly-moving, low-word count, every-spread-has-an-image-or-funky-lettering approach to making books hip and cool. And we still manage to combine the odd-but-charming-girls-versus-the-smug-horrid-girls trope with more than enough invention for us not to worry.
In other words, we're colliding You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum! by Andy Stanton with something like the Dork Diaries and some more welcome silliness such as The Monkey Pirates. And like the first of those two franchises, at least, the quality has sustained itself to number six in the series, and shows no sign of diminishing. Yes, there is a big lack when it comes to the inventive word-play and approach to breaking the fourth wall and other self-referential jokiness, but it shouldn't be essential for every book to do a Stanton and mimic that – especially if you have his self-same illustrator, once again on form.
Of all the Mr Gum-type books I've read (and if you haven't seen them breed like flies recently, welcome to the real world of modern children's fiction), this one stands out as the most gender-specific. Boys are background oddballs, and even if some of the girls Agatha hangs with can be real tomboys, or have the universal appeal of joking at how silly adults can be, this does come across as more of a girlie selection than any other like it. Still, when it adds humanity and warmth to the comedy, charm and invention, who's really to complain if there are a few too many group hugs? While this series began a long time ago, and I've only just encountered it to read, I can certainly see why it's held in such fond regard.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The same audience will love Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers by John Dougherty.
You can read more book reviews or buy Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street Ghost by Kjartan Poskitt at Amazon.com.
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