For younger readers

23rd February 2001 at 00:00
While reading Jeremy Strong's new knockabout Karate Princess adventure, The Karate Princess in Monsta Trouble (Puffin pound;3.99), I made a mental note whenever I thought children were likely to laugh out loud, such as when Prince Blippenbang's grandmother thinks her brain is falling out because her "bad through and through" grandson has put rice pudding in her ear trumpet. In a fast-paced, dialogue-driven narrative, there are, on average, a couple of such laughs per page.

Night of the Red Devil by Theresa Tomlinson, illustrated by Anthony Lewis (Walker Books pound;7.99), is a timeslip novel set in Whitby. The "red devil" in question does not have a Dracula connection, nor is it a stunt plane. Tomlinson has based her book on factual information about the Victorian jet works in Whitby, but sensibly laves most of the historical references for the second half of the story, having by then skilfully established reader interest.

The Cat With Two Names by Linda Newbery (Scholastic Press pound;3.99), also illustrated by Anthony Lewis, is a charming and amusing short chapter book written by an author who knows the ways of cats.

Alison Prince narrates Bumble (Young Corgi pound;3.99) from a hamster's point of view. "Well done," his mother says, after Rosie chooses him in the pet shop. "You've got the job. Remember, it's up to you to keep your people happy." Bumble, so-named because of a big bum ("a bit rude," he thinks), sets about his career with relish until two mice called Darren and Janice turn up.

Michael Thorn is deputy head of Hawkes Farm primary school, Hailsham, East Sussex

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