The Wacky World of Wesley Baker, By Gene Kemp, Viking Pounds 9.99. 0 670 85426 3.
In The Wacky World of Wesley Baker, Agnes Potter-Higgins, athletic misfit in a family of literary and musical intellectuals, loves Wes Baker, sensitive weedy offspring of fitness freaks. Gene Kemp, best known for The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler, explores their appalling families with a wicked eye for detail, but skilfully sketches minor characters with just enough detail to allow the reader to invent the rest: the lugubrious Mr Clunthorpe, who will not allow the school's Dragon Week Theme to disrupt his lesson plans or his ferocious discipline, and Mrs Warble, the Head with the "multicoloured skirt round her multicoloured legs".
The story of Wesley's efforts to evade the affections of Agnes, the muscle-building regimes of his parents and a prominent part in the class play, races along like a 1994 Jennings on illegal substances.
The anxieties and aspirations of feverishly active children trying to establish their own identities are explored with insight and tremendous humour.