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Fins ain't what they used to be;Children's books;Arts

RUDE HEALTH. BY LINDA ARONSON. Macmillan. pound;3.99.

THE GIANT GOLDFISH ROBBERY. By Richard Kidd. Corgi Yearling. pound;3.99.

Look no further for a truly funny book which boys, as well as girls, will enjoy. Meet Ian Rude, whose family has come to run a health food shop in a small Australian town which is more at home with a can of the amber nectar.

Ian has the maths teacher from hell and a name designed for trouble. He is undersized, and a natural target for Clint Pocky next door. The Pockys are brilliantly described. The various slogans on Dad Pocky's T-shirts are worth the cover price alone.

There is a plot too which involves aforementioned maths teacher, a school trip, assorted bikers and health-food freaks and Ian himself sorting out his problems. You may have other views of this novel, but, to adapt the immortal words of Baz Luhrmann: trust me on the laughs.

Richard Kidd's story has a hard-to-read cover with a koi carp swimming out of it. This is designed, we are told, to hook in boys, who will be attracted to the 3-D effect. I doubt it myself, but if they make the effort to open the book, they will be rewarded with a warm-hearted, well-written, and quite exciting story. The pictures, also by Richard Kidd, add extra pleasure.

We meet delightful characters, thrill to the dastardly deeds of the villain and cheer when the boys, of course, triumph. Fun for readers of both sexes.

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