Friday, 25 October 2013

The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman and David Roberts (Walker Books)

The Dunderheads

Written by Paul Fleischman

Illustrated by David Roberts

Published by Walker Books

We like doing things in a slightly jumbled-up fashion. We previously reviews "The Dunderheads - Behind Bars" thanks to those lovely Letterbox Library folk. Now we're playing catchup as we found the original Dunderheads book nestling in the library and thought we'd free it for a couple of weeks.

As previously stated in our other review, this gang of kids are anything but dunderheads but are unfairly labelled as such by their terrifying Trunchbull-esque teacher Miss Breakbone. Part cybernetic kid-eating machine (at least we suspect as much), with a peppery dash of Cruella DeVille about her - and a rather annoying habit of confiscating children's goodies in class, and hawking them on EBay for fun and profit. What a ratbag!

One day she confiscates a china cat from Junkyard, which was intended to be a birthday present for his darling mum. That is the last straw, and Junkyard's unspoken plea for help from his friends is like a thrown-down gauntlet, a challenge to recover the confiscated moggy and make sure Miss Breakbone is served a valuable lesson or two in the process.

Calling on all the expertise of this talented bunch of kids, Einstein (the brains of the outfit) formulates a dastardly sneaky but downright genius plan to gain access to Miss Breakbones fortress-like house and rescue that poor moggy so that Junkyard can give it to his mum as intended. But there are perils a-plenty, and it will take all the tenacity and courage of Einstein, Junkyard, Spitball, Nails, Google-Eyes, Wheels, Hollywood, Clips and Spider to put the plan into action. Phew, that's quite a gang!

A terrifying baddie, a diverse and brilliant cast of kid characters, a tricky mission and David Roberts' truly amazing illustrations make this something special. We love this as much as we loved "Behind Bars" and seriously think that if any enterprising TV executives are looking for the next huge animated hit, they need look no further than this brilliant book for inspiration.

Charlotte's best bit: Google-Eyes hypnotising Miss Breakbone's maid just in time.

Daddy's Favourite bit: The rather lovely pay-off at the end, aww bless 'em!