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Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Eddie Dickens Trilogy by Philip Ardagh

"Awful End": When both of Eddie Dickens' parents catch a disease that makes them turn yellow, go a bit crinkly round the edges and smell of hot water bottles, it's agreed he should go and stay with relatives at their house Awful End. Unfortunately for Eddie, those relatives are Mad Uncle Jack and Even-Madder Aunt Maud, and it doesn't look as if the three of them are ever going to reach their destination..."Dreadful Acts": Eddie Dickens narrowly avoids an explosion, a hot-air balloon and arrest, only to find himself falling head-over heels for a girl with a face like a camel's, and into the hands of a murderous gang of escaped convicts who have 'one little job for him to do'. "Terrible Times": Eddie had been given the task of travelling to America to look after his family's interests there. But his life is never that simple; especially with a potential stowaway in his trunk, and Lady Constance Bustle at his side. She's a professional 'travelling companion', whose previous employers seem to have died under the most remarkable and unfortunate circumstances...

What a fantastic book for children and adults alike. I think this book has something for everyone with humour and information, facts and history included within the stories.

The book includes three books which have been previously released singly and together make a great gift for someone to cheer them up, make them laugh out loud while gaining little known facts on a range of topics.

The author begins book one, Awful End, with a note explaining that Awful end was originally written in a series of letters to his nephew, Ben, while at boarding school. These letters were called 'episodes' and, later found out by Ardagh, to have been read out loud by the house master and house mistress to amuse Ben's fellow house mates. When reading Awful End I had this in the back of my mind and could imagine everyone looking forward to Ben's latest letter being received from Uncle Philip.

The stories or 'episodes' are written in an unique style. I have seen Philip Ardagh on television on a number of occasions, talking about children's fiction and I think that these are written in the same manner that Ardagh speaks. In descriptive language where at any point, he can digress, and include an important fact, explaining why something is the way it is, or why something has happened, linking back to history. There are also comments by him, little aside comments, within the text too.

The characters are all, well to put it bluntly, mad. There is Eddie, a young boy, his mother and father, along with Mad Uncle Jack, who lives in a tree house and Even Madder Maud, who lives in a huge cow, Marjorie,which Eddie had used to rescue the boys from the orphanage in Awful End, who is constantly with Malcolm, a stuffed Stoat. 

There are also, throughout the book, many brilliant pencil sketches which accompany the story, again in a similar style to the story telling and relates to the chaotic and fast pace of the story. There is a brilliant sketch of the author included alongside his message from the author.

The book is laugh a minute and perfect to cheer up any child stuck inside on a miserable summer holiday or as an incentive to get a reluctant child to read. 

I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a laugh, both young and old.

Thank you to Faber Faber Kids for sending me this book to review.

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