Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You're a Bad Man, Mr. Gum!

Stanton, Andy. 2008. You're a bad man, Mr. Gum! New York: Harper Collins.

Originally, published in the UK, this is a book that caught my eye because of its silly back cover.

The back cover includes a cast of characters including "Crafty Tom: A Tyrannosaurus rex with a heart of gold.*" The footnote reads, "* Actual book may not include Crafty Tom."
This is the sort of silliness that pervades this book.

As it turns out, Crafty Tom does not appear in this J novel for younger readers. Instead, the reader will meet the mean Mr. Gum, the frying pan wielding fairy, Jake the dog, and Polly, whose real name is - well, never mind - you'll have to read the book to find out.

You're a Bad Man, Mr. Gum is full of the type of absurdity that young boys will find captivating, as is evidenced in this passage,

"Three weeks later Mr. Gum was covered in frying pan-shaped bruises and he had missed ten episodes of Bag of Sticks. It was time for action. nasty action.

'It's time for action,' said Mr. Gum to nobody in particular. 'Nasty action.'

Nobody in particular shrugged his shoulders and wandered off to eat his dinner. Mr. Gum went to the shed and got out his thinking cap. He put it on his knee (it was a kneecap) and started thinking about how to get rid of that dog."

It's interesting to read a book intended for a British audience. The premise of the book itself, a man trying to kill a dog with poison, (don't' worry - he doesn't!) is one that you probably wouldn't see here in the States. And I certainly can't remember that I've read any US books for young J readers that include the bad men going to the pub and falling down! Just in case the reader is unfamiliar with the word "pub," there is a humorous glossary of British terms including pub.

"Pub: Bar. This is where naughty people go to drink beer, and their faces turn red and then they are sick all over the place. But you are not allowed into pubs until you're all grown up, so don't even try it, kids, forget it!" Some of the items in the glossary are useful, duvet, dustbin, and Prime Minister, for example. Most are silly.

This book is certainly not quality literature, however, it was recommended to me by a young boy who actually gave me a written review, "The book was really funny! I also Got a A+ on my report. My Grandma helped me with it."

Probably best for boys ages 8-11.

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