The second adventure in this series of books about Brian Brackbrick, the 138th cleverest person in the world. Young readers are likely to enjoy this fun adventure.
10-year old Brian Brackbrick is the 138th cleverest person in the world and absolutely never leaves the house without a hat. With the help of his loyal best friend – George Bum – he’s determined to use his considerable intelligence to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Old Mr Hatston. But where should they start? Brian suspects that Mrs Blumenhole from the flower shop may hold the answer but will she be willing to help?
This is the second in a series of books about Brian Brackbrick and I did wonder whether I was going to struggle to follow the plot given I haven’t read the first. Fortunately, there’s a useful summary of book one at the beginning of this book. (Which will also helpfully serve to remind young readers of the key plot points). While reading book one may have added to my enjoyment, it certainly didn’t stop me zipping through this story and giggling at some of the sillier incidents.
There are lots of fun ideas – such as tasting experimental herbal flavoured cupcakes – that are likely to appeal to the target audience (children aged 6-9 years). There’s also some wonderful names in the quirky cast of supporting characters, including Fancy Nancy Sprinkle from the cake shop; a librarian by the name of Dr Harley Letters; and, of course, Mrs Blumenhole from the flower shop who used to be known as Miss Petal! Young readers may not understand these references but that doesn’t matter and, coupled with a few other amusing asides, these will help keep adult readers using this as a bedtime story more than entertained.
The illustrations by Taylor Brooker are outstanding. I just loved the portraits of the main characters in the opening pages, including the question mark for the mysterious Mr Sparkler. These are followed by some equally wonderful sketches of the ‘places’ in the story and then – even better still – the ‘things’. (These are the ‘things’ that are important to the story – a woolly hat, a southern dripping red nettle plant, the very rare giant purple spotted tonic bush, and an eastern mini squirt-ball orange fruit plant.) My favourite illustrations are, however, the expression on Brian’s face in the picture of him eating a eucalyptus leaf flavoured cake and the picture on the following page of steam coming of George Bum’s ears after eating a chilli pepper cupcake.
I can’t finish a review of this book without mentioning the quotes from readers at the start. It’s great to find out what youngsters think about a book and their short reviews really made me smile. However, it was the attribution of the quotes from the two adult readers that made me laugh – one is merely listed as ‘Kevin, a grown-up’ while the other is wonderfully ascribed to ‘a grown-up on the outside’. I love it!
If you enjoyed this, you might want to check on the first book in the series – Brian Brackbrick and the Hazard of Harry Hatman. Alternatively, if you’d like to read about a female detective for this age range, I’d recommend Dotty Detective by Clara Vulliamy.
Date: September 2018