Children's books

30th March 2007 at 01:00
Revolting thieves, Greek myths and an intrepid detective.

You're a Bad Man Mr Gum!

Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire

By Andy Stanton

Illustrated by David Tazzyman

Egmont pound;4.99 each (paperback)

Seven-plus

With anarchic humour reminiscent of Roald Dahl at his most revolting, in The Twits or George's Marvellous Medicine, or Roddy Doyle in The Giggler Treatment, Andy Stanton uses invented words, puns and the technique of making asides to build the relationship between the reader and the page.

Mr Gum, introduced in You're a Bad Man Mr Gum!, is a disgusting, lazy, old man who hates children but keeps his garden tidy for fear of the "angry fairy" in his bathtub.

Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire sees Mr Gum and the even more revolting butcher, Billy William the Third, stealing a biscuit tin full of cash from the "Biscuit Billionaire" - a 15cm-high gingerbread man.

In both stories, the good citizens of the town of Lamonic Bibber (bizarre characters themselves) thwart the pair's evil plans.

The "disgusting" content - farts, rotting meat, etc - will appeal particularly to boys, but the fragrant Polly may attract girls.

The Fire Thief

Flight of the Fire Thief

By Terry Deary

Kingfisher

pound;7.99 each

Nine-plus

Terry Deary's starting point for his trilogy (two-thirds complete) is the myth of Prometheus, the Titan changed to a rock after stealing fire from Zeus. Here, Prometheus escapes by travelling in time to Earth.

In The Fire Thief he reaches Eden City in the 19th century, meeting up with a boy and his uncle, a couple of conmen who work a scam based on their travelling show.

In Flight of the Fire Thief, Prometheus visits Eden City in 1795 and meets more dubious show people.

The action moves skilfully between Mount Olympus and Eden City, as Deary cleverly weaves in more Greek myths.

Humorous footnotes, clever, fast-moving plots and smart-talking dialogue make for hugely enjoyable reading.

Fiona Lafferty is editor of The Good Book Guide

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