'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 16 October 2010

Review: Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire

Oh my. Could it be? Could there be a rivaling rival to the great Roald Dahl? Could there ever be? Whatever the whethers, Brit author Andy Stanton has certainly made a dent in the market of nonsense-style hilarity in this brilliant junior fiction series.

Mr Gum is a shister if there ever was one. Shamelessly evil, he spends his life sleeping. Then, when he wakes, he likes to cause trouble. In the Biscuit Billionaire, Gum seeks the aid of his equally odious pal – Billy William, a local butcher who loves to slurp entrails – to create drama for the locals of Lamonic Bibber.

And when a delightful little gingerbread man (who stands 15.24cm high) named Alan Taylor begins handing out stacks of cash from his biscuit jar, enticing locals to come to his mansion-warming, Gum sees his chance to cause havoc.

Along with Billy, the duo apprehend the tasty biscuit by accosting him at the hotdog stand at his very own carnival-like house-warming party, sandwiching him in bread and smothering him with onions (well, Alan had requested plenty of onions with his hotdog).

Luckily, local kid Polly and her friend Friday catch these shenanigans in action, and set about to reclaim Alan’s money. The riotous adventure that ensues is pure junior fiction magic, not only for what unfolds but for the way it's unfurled.

Stanton is a master of rhythmic, evocative writing, that flows off the page and through the mental receptors like a slick strip of caramel, coated in oil and daubed in butter. The way this author thinks and puts those thoughts down on paper is truly priceless – not only utterly hilarious but so left field and out of the box, you’ll guffaw out loud at the dry-humour brilliance of it.

“And now, a lovely warm feeling came over Polly as if someone were baking lasagna in her veins.”

“…when she laughed, the sunlight went splashing off her pretty teeth like diamonds in search of adventure.”

And, apologies, but one for the kids... “It smelt like a zoo had married a gigantic fart.”

Despite this last quote, this book doesn’t rely on schlock nor toilet humour – it relies completely on brilliant, imaginative and funny writing, with big chunks of visual vanilla slices, nonsense, warmth and loads of wit. And madcap illustrations by David Tazzyman just add to the vividly attractive package.

Any kid would love this book – and the other books in this sensational series – old or young, boy or girl, mum or dad. Yes, this book won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and yes, it totally deserves my allusion to the Master of Nonsense.

Mr Gum is one of my favourite junior fiction series. Ever.

Title: Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire
Author: Andy Stanton
Illustrator: David Tazzyman
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont, A$12.95RRP
Publication Date: 1 May 2005
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781405228152
For ages: 6 - 12
Type: Junior Fiction