Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon


A delightful story for newly independent readers that’s supplemented by wonderful black and white illustrations.

Dory – known as ‘Rascal’ – is the little one in her family. She’d love to play with her older sister, Violet, and her brother, Luke, but they both think Dory is too much of a baby. They find her very irritating, from the way she sees monsters everywhere to her constant stream of questions. That’s why they decide they’ve got to think of something that will force Dory to grow up. Violet comes up with the perfect idea – they tell Dory about Mrs Gobble Cracker (a five hundred year old robber who steels baby girls.) They tell Dory that the only way to escape Mrs Gobble Cracker is to stop acting like such a baby. Their scheme, however, quickly backfires and they get much more than they bargained for.

This is a delightful story for newly independent readers, especially those with irritating little sisters. Author Abby Hanlon clearly understands her main character. We’ve all met this child – the one who has a question about everything, an imaginary friend and a vivid imagination. My smile emerged in the opening chapter and got wider and wider as the story progressed. There are too many incidents to describe (and, besides, that could spoil the enjoyment of the book) but I did particularly love it when Dory gets revenge on the Doctor by giving her a pretend injection with a lollipop stick!

While the story is fun, it is Abby Hanlon’s wonderful black and white illustrations that make this book so special. In just a few lines, Abby has captured almost every possible expression and I adored the depiction of Dory’s imaginary friend Mary. The illustrations also really add to the humour from the array of monsters in chapter one to the amusing speech bubbles. I laughed out loud when Violet and Luke complain to Mum that Dory is bothering them and – when mum asks what Dory has been doing – they reply: ‘She’s looking at us’ and ‘She’s breathing’.

I have only one minor gripe with this book. It’s a translation from the USA and two Americanisms seem to have slipped through the editing process (the Doctor asks Dory ‘What grade are you starting?’ and mum slips the lollipop into her ‘purse’). These jarred with me and are likely to be terms that British children won’t understand. This is, however, a minor point and won’t spoil their overall enjoyment of the book.

If you enjoyed this, you shouldn’t miss the ‘classic’ first person voice for this age range and should get hold of a copy of ‘Utterly Me, Clarice Bean’ by Lauren Child. Alternatively, why not try Penny Dreadful is a Complete Catastrophe by Joanna Nadin.

ISBN: 978-0571325580
Date: March 2017
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Pages: 160
Author: Abby Hanlon

Madge's 4.5/5 Star Review Rating

Review first published on The Bookbag

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