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Children's fiction: Funny and not so peculiar

Pongwiffy: The Spellovision Song Contest
By Kaye Umansky
Illustrated by David Roberts
Puffin pound;4.99

The Beak Speaks
By Jeremy Strong
Puffin pound;3.99

Free Lance And The Lake of Skulls
By Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Hodder Children's Books pound;9.99

When The Circus Came To Town
By Polly Horvath
Scholastic pound;4.99

Hooray! A new Pongwiffy book. In this one, Spellovision - Witchway Wood's term for television - is a new fad, with programming still in development. Kaye Umansky has her wicked way satirising lame scripts and a fair bit of fun playing with TV titles. The Spellovision soap opera? Gnome And Away , of course!

A programme called Goblins In Cars enjoys a rosy patch, but soon everyone gets bored with all but the News and Pongwiffy suggests the Spellovision Song Contest to get people watching the box again. Her sidekick familiar, a hamster called Hugo, provides assorted deadpan humour from The Little Book of Hamster Wit and Wisdom.

Read more in this week's TES

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