Laughing all the way there

10th August 2001 at 01:00
GHOST TO THE RESCUE! By Helen Dunwoodie. Corgi Yearling pound;4.99. TES Direct pound;3.99.

Michael Thorn on titles to keep the kids amused in the car or at the airport.

With many of the people involved in children's publishing in Edinburgh for this month's annual book festival, what better choice of fiction can there be than this pacy, light-hearted adventure story set in Scotland's capital city.

Lady Maisie McNeil, a 250-year-old ghost whose powers are flagging, has been summoned from her retreat on the shores of Loch Rannoch to help Rowan, younger daughter of an about-to-be-remarried author and university teacher, foil the plans of a suspicious American imposter.

It has all the ingredients of a satisfying, escapist read, and even animal interest - a heroic Scottie dog, Atholl.

There are shades of Diana Hendry and JKRowling, and children who enjoy those authors should enjoy Dunwoodie. Adults choosing the book to read aloud in unfamiliar holiday settings will be tickled by the humour.

ONE HOT PENGUIN. By Jamie Rix. Young Corgi pound;3.99. TES Direct pound;3.49

Young Phelan Whelan lives in Ballyfishangel. The sea and fishing have been in the blood for generations. Phelan loves his dad's salty tales of adventure. But he hates fish and anything to do with them.

One blistering summer's day at the zoo, a penguin called Whistler smuggles himself into Phelan's anorak. Neal Layton's comic line drawings reinforce the humour of Phelan's attempts to keep Whistler hidden in the house.

Eventually the penguin is released on an island just beyond the Ballyfish lighthouse, although Phelan's father's has convinced him it is the South Pole. An excellent book with a double-edged resolution.

WISH FOR A FISH: all about sea creatures. By Bonnie Worth. Illustrated by Aristides Ruiz. Collins Children's Books pound;3.99. Available through TES Direct.

COME OVER TO MY HOUSE. By Dr Seuss writing as Theo LeSieg. Illustrated by Richard Erdoes. Collins Children's Books pound;4.99. TES Direct pound;4.49.

The latest clutch of Seuss titles includes some new ones "written in rollicking Seussian rhyme" as well as books that were written by the main man, Theodor Geisel, but under various pseudonyms.

Wish For A Fish is relatively informative. The verse "rollicks" a little rough-shoddedly, lacking that authentic Seussian spark, rhyme and rhythm on display in Come Over To My House, a book that celebrates the universal hunger for companionship and hospitality.

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