My last book haul comprised of illustrated books in varied genres and I couldn’t resist adding the latest offering from David Walliams to the selection.
On a volcanic island, in the middle of shark-infested waters, stands The Cruel School. The lessons are appalling, the school dinners are revolting and the teachers are terrifying – especially the mysterious Science teacher Doctor Doktur.
When Larker is sent to the school, she quickly realises something very odd is going on… something involving Doctor Doktur, a pair of strange spectacles, and a ‘Monsterfication Machine’. And ultimately she finds herself face to face with a real life Megamonster.
There seems to be no escape – but for Larker, nothing is impossible…
Larker has been nicknamed so for a reason. Her parents, no longer by her side, taught her that one must laugh even in the worst of times so she has a joke for every occasion. Unfortunately, her teacher, Ms. Clomp has had enough of her larking and is sending her off to a different school where only the incorrigible get sent and no one ever returns.
Before Larker has even stepped on the boat meant to be her ride, she begins planning her escape. She can’t possibly deserve this wretched fate for trying to make people laugh.
She jumps into the freezing ocean at first opportunity only to learn she is about to become shark food. Saved in the nick of time by the mysterious hooded boatman, she has little choice other than wait to meet her future. Soon, she finds herself climbing a makeshift ladder along the side of the volcano on top of which stands The Cruel School.
At this new school, Larker meets some unusual people and notices the strange things that happen here. When she sees Bug, the tiniest but meanest boy, fly through the library’s roof like a meteor, she sets out to uncover the mysterious disappearances at The Cruel School.
It has been a while since Walliams wrote a story about a girl with wit as sharp as a smooth edge of paper, a delightful sense of humour, and courage that fails at nothing. (… other than sharks?)
This reminded me of the books I loved reading as a young girl – stories of boarding schools with the naughty and nice always at war, setting out on brave midnight adventures, fighting the bad guys to solve the strangest mysteries, and bringing the world back to a better place.
Here, you meet the weirdest characters caught in bizarre situations which are curiously entertaining. They are annoying, rude, and mean but there is a worthy lesson to be imbibed from the exciting adventure this book takes you on.
I always marvel at how Tony Ross manages to bring his illustrations to life in black and white. I don’t know about you but the way he plays with the greys on his palette makes them so incredibly detailed. And the text layout and font styling is the cherry on top.
This magical story of bravery will convince little girls that courage does not differentiate gender. Whatever one can do, she will most likely do it better, simpler and quicker once she puts her mind to it.
P.S.: I keep meaning to ask… can anyone direct me to where I can find the Walliamsictionary. I’ve built a substantial collection of David Walliams’ books and his words are becoming harder to decipher but all he does is add a footnote directing you to refer to the biggest book of words – the most trusted Walliamsictionary. I’m beginning to wonder if I can trust his footnotes.
Book 51 of 2021.
Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.
Available on Amazon*.
Tony lives in Wales.
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