The Pencil of Doom! (Henry Mcthrottle) by Andy Griffiths

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The Pencil of Doom! (Henry Mcthrottle) by Andy Griffiths
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Genre: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A madly wicked magic pencil causes havoc in this joyous and hilarious breeze of a children's title.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: March 2009
Publisher: Marion Lloyd Books
ISBN: 978-1407108995

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Things are a bit strange for Henry McThrottle in his school - the Northwest Southeast Central. It's not his teacher's wardrobe - although there are colour clashes there aplenty. It's not his teacher's stunts involving the rafters and demonstrations of the bat way of life. It's not down to the magic tricks that form his teacher's 'important lessons' - life-skills in sawing girls apart, and so on. It's down to Henry's magic pencil, which is the most evil and manipulative drawing implement known to boykind.

Among the population of wackily-named pupils, bullies, and the kid scared of practically everything (including being scared itself), there is a brilliant tale to be told. Anything created by the pencil comes true in the most awful way, and everything Henry tries to do to get rid of the evil thing fails. What is a boy to do?

Well if I were a boy - or a girl - of about eight I would be running out and buying the prequel, the sequel, and everything else Andy Griffiths had written. The levity of the telling is evident here, in the names of the school inhabitants, in the build-up of odd elements until a glorious set scene comes crashing through (just as so many people exit the classroom through the window), and in the fact you don't need to have read the first book in this series at all.

It's a perfectly PG-certificate adventure, and everything is spot on, from the immediacy of the characterisation, to the plot, to the style it's all presented in. It reads with an expert ease, and I almost feel justified in saying the usual black and white pictures a book for this audience would normally have, would only have got in the way. The chaptering is very pacey, the comedy pacier, and it amounts to a great title.

It's also good to see something a little more, shall we say, cerebral, from the author of The Day My Bum Went Psycho. There's no scatological comedy here, instead something one could easily enjoy alongside their children without embarrassment.

We are very grateful for the Scholastic people giving us a review copy.

File this alongside the idiotically brilliant, brilliantly idiotic Mr Gum books, and for more pictures come to life, start on another excellent series with Monster Makers: Electrotaur and Slashermite by Ali Sparkes.

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