Sir Gadabout and the Ghost by Martyn Beardsley is a great example of a perfect book for a child who has recently learned to read and is transitioning from picture books to full novels.
It is a short work, with short, manageable chapters that are easy for a child to conquer. It still has illustrations, in this case, wonderful ones by the prodigiously gifted Tony Ross, but there is a greater proportion of words to pictures, and in this case, the pictures are line drawings rather than full colour plates.
The font is slightly larger in size than a regular novel, and there is more white space on the page and slightly bigger gaps than normal between the lines, so that a child can follow the story more easily than with densely packed, small type.
I loved this book, which is, thankfully, one of a series about Sir Gadabout, the most hopeless knight of the Round Table ever.
Sir Gadabout falls asleep at the weekly meeting of the Round Table, when Sir Lancelot is droning on about his heroic efforts, after all Sir Gadabout has managed to do is fish a fly out of his tea, and then accidentally squash it.
When Sir Gadabout wakes up, he is still in the Round Table room, but it is dark and all the other knights have gone. The keeper of the keys has locked the door, not knowing Sir Gadabout is still in there. This wouldn’t be so bad if the room wasn’t haunted by the ghost of Sir Henry Hirsute, a knight whose reputation was tarnished when he was accused of stealing a tin of pilchards from the castle kitchens. Sir Henry believes a rogue knife sharpener took the tin and blamed it on him.
Rather than frightening Sir Gadabout to death, he tasks Sir Gadabout with the onerous task of tracking down the knife sharpener and restoring his reputation, so he can rest in peace.
Sir Gadabout sets of on his quest with his trusty squire Herbert, and Merlin’s familiar, the most sarcastic cat in the world, Sidney Smith.
This is a very funny book with some wonderfully comic lines and characters. I particularly like the kamikaze turtle Dr. McPherson, whose job is to protect Merlin from intruders.
A wonderful book to read aloud to children from about the age of four and for confident readers from about the age of seven. It will work equally well for boys and girls, but if you’ve got a boy who is struggling to find something that isn’t girly, but is also fun, this is the perfect book. If you have struggling readers in the top end of Key Stage Two these are silly enough and funny enough to work for a child up to about the age of eleven. It’s just the right length for using as a guided reading text in schools if you are doing a topic on knights or indeed The Round Table.