Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Quest for the Magic Porcupine by John Dougherty is the second in a series that starts with Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers. I have already reviewed the third book in the series: Stinkbomb and Ketchupface and the Evilness of Pizza, which was given to me by Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest opinion.
My honest opinion was that it was an excellent and very funny read, and my son, Oscar, who is eight, read it after me and agreed wholeheartedly. So much so in fact, that he used some of his Christmas money to buy the previous two titles in the series. He has read and loved them both, and now given them to me to read.
Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face live on the island of Kerfuffle, which is inhabited by a deranged king who is useless at identifying animals, an army which consists of a sullen cat called Malcolm, who is more interested in his belly than saving the kingdom, a wise Ninja librarian, and a shopping trolley that may or may not be a magical horse.
Oh, and the bad badgers, intent on bringing about the downfall of Kerfuffle, mainly by knocking over dustbins and driving very fast.
In this volume the badgers are in prison, but manage to escape with a get out of jail free card they find in a Monopoly board game. They start terrorising the inhabitants of Kerfuffle by hiding on the roof of the library and tipping river water that smells faintly of bananas all over the inhabitants. It is up to Ketchup-Face and Stinkbomb to stop them.
The only way they can do this is by travelling to the other end of Kerfuffle to consult the magic porcupine. Of course.
These books are beautifully surreal and very funny. As I said before, they are much in the same vein as Andy Stanton’s Mr. Gum books, which is very welcome, as Andy Stanton hasn’t written any more Mr. Gum books recently and the world is crying out for more ludicrously funny children’s books that are playful with words and language and accessible to all age ranges. The fact that Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face is illustrated by Dave Tazzyman, also responsible for the Mr. Gum books helps enormously, and I believe these books would be a valuable addition to school libraries everywhere.
The chapters are short and the text is sparse. Each page is fantastically illustrated and the books are easy to read for children who are independent readers but who are not quite ready for full on novels. The language is playful and interesting and will still offer challenges to readers, despite the brevity of the text. It would work wonderfully for independent readers aged seven to ten, and is a joy to read out loud to younger readers as a bed time story.