Great fun for confident readers (or as a read-aloud)
The plot is, of course, silly and that is a large part of its appeal. It's pretty well-thought-through silliness, however, with plenty of quirky details that hit just the right note for this age group (without being over-the-top absurd). I enjoyed the extracts from The Meddlers' Mischief Manual (and the layout and typography in presenting these is also effective, making it clear that this is separate from the main text to not confuse new readers). I also particularly appreciated the "What Are The Odds" introduction that precedes Chapter One. Some children get frustrated before they feel fully grounded into a story and this introductory section is perfect for orienting them.
The Odds themselves are strange, quirky creatures who inhabit a culture that counters our own, celebrating mess and reversals. This will clearly appeal to many children's sense of humour, and they will readily accept and sympathise with the Odds' values and personalities. They will also enjoy the test at the end which decides whether they are fit to pass the Professional Prankster Exam. This test refers to several details mentioned in the book, so those who have paid attention will be pleased to show their knowledge of Meddling.
Overall, I'd recommend this for boys and girls who enjoy funny, quirky stories. It's not quite as silly as, say Phillip Ardagh or Andy Stanton which, from my perspective, gives it a broader appeal and makes it more suitable as a shared read.
Back cover blurb:Have you ever fallen flat on your face when you're carrying an ice cream? Or put down a drink, gone back to get it and it's nowhere to be seen?
That's the Odds at work! A family of Professional Pranksters who delight in playing the most rib-tickling tricks on the townspeople of Trott. But when the fiendish Mr and Mrs Plopwell move in nearby, the Odds meet their match. This calls for some serious mischief-making...
Published August 2012
Thank you to Stripes Publishing for the review copy
Check it out at Amazon UK
As well as getting all organised about what I'm doing and when, I'm also trying a different review layout. What do you think?