Friday, September 12, 2014

Fizzlebert Stump the boy who ran away from the circus (and joined the library) by AF Harrold illustrated by Sarah Horne

Fizzlebert Stump the boy who ran away from the circus (and joined the library) is a huge romp from page one through to page 251!  I almost read the whole book in one sitting but such awful things happen to our hero Fizzlebert Stump known as Fizz that at several points I just had to stop reading.  In fact the author advised this himself - he talks to the reader right through this story in a similar way to Lemony Snickett in A series of Unfortunate Events.

Fizz has lived his whole life with a travelling circus.  His mum is a clown and his dad is the strong man and they enjoy their life and simple small caravan.  Sadly for Fizz there are no other children in this circus so his main friends are a sea lion called Fish and an old toothless lion.  Fizz does have to attend school but this is provided by the assorted adults from the circus and so while Fizz knows quite a lot about clowns, acrobats and circus tents he is extremely ignorant about things from daily life including the workings of public libraries.  One night some boys hang around after the circus talking with Fizz.  He is delighted to meet some children his own age but sadly the conversation turns to taunting when Fizz tells them his name.  As the boys run off one drops his library book and so the next day, under instruction from Dr Surprise the circus's "Mysterious Magical Mind Reader, Horrendous Horripilating Hypnotist and Incredible Invisible Illusionist", Fizz visits the town library to return the book.

"The room was full of more books than he'd ever seen in his life.  Brilliant! Amazing! Just looking at one shelf at random and reading the titles, it seemed that every single book was different."

Fizz finds a special book and he goes to the counter to buy it because the lending process is new to him.  The Librarian Miss Toad explains Fizz can join the library.  No need for money.  There is one catch. Fizz will need an adult to sign his membership form.  As he sadly leaves the library two people walk up with the seemingly innocent offer of help.  They pretend to be his grandparents and Fizz can join the library and borrow the book "The Great Zargo of Ixl-Bolth and the Flying death Robots of Mars." Clearly another thing missing from Fizz's upbringing was "he'd never learnt that, as a general rule, it's not a good idea to talk to strangers in the street."

If you are already a fan of Roald Dahl especially The Twits or the Mr Gum series then rush (and I do mean rush) into your library and ask for Fizzlebert Stump.  There are three books in this series and yes we do have all of them.  If your library does not have this series make sure you ask the lovely Teacher-Librarian to buy it.  Other children will thank you and so will teachers who pick up this book as a read-a-loud for their class.

I have to thank a Grade five student (and his mum) from my school who alerted me to this terrific book.  I am off to borrow the second one today. You can read reviews by other students here.

I will finish with a little quote which may give you an idea of the tone of this wacky book.  For reasons I won't explain this is from the scene where Mr Stump (he is a weightlifter remember) picks up the town librarian Miss Toad.

"he grabbed her (gently) by the collar and lifted her up.  Her fat ankles paddled the air, as if they were still walking.  He lifted her higher, with one arm, which was a remarkable feat since she was not the slimmest or slightest of creatures, and turned her so they faced each other.  She was, as you can imagine, a little startled by this, but as a trained librarian she did not let it show."

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