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More William by Richmal Crompton is the second in the Just William series about school boy William Brown, of which there are 38 in total. You do not have to read them in order to enjoy them, by the way. Rather like Horrid Henry (but better by a country mile in my opinion), each chapter is a separate story about William’s exploits, unrelated to what has gone before, and this means you can plunge in anywhere and get the same enjoyment from them.

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Which, if you’re me, is a lot.

The Just William stories are very old fashioned. The world William inhabits, rather like that of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, is one that is no longer relevant to modern children. William lives in a world full of cooks, and maids and gardeners, and drawing rooms and  old money. He roams freely about the highways and byways, stealing gypsy caravans and not coming home until dark. It requires a willing suspension of disbelief to enter William’s world and enjoy it fully.

I have to say that I have been reading these books on and off since I was a child, and as a child of the Seventies, it was an alien world to me then too, but it never affected my enjoyment of them. I find that I did enjoy them less as a child, probably because I wasn’t so interested in the humour of the stories as I am now. I find them hilarious now, but then I found them rather uninspiring, preferring the more adventurous world of Enid Blyton.

William is a pretty endearing character, despite his badness there is a lively mischief that makes him less tedious than say Horrid Henry, and there are times, like in the last story of this book where William gives up his Christmas party food to a young girl to make her Christmas wish come true, when he is positively lovely, even though his good intentions always come with a hearty dollop of very satisfactory mischief.

If you’re offering them to a child to read, you will need a confident reader, mainly because of the dialogue, which is very mannered and colloquial in places. The stories are nicely paced and the action evolves quickly, which I think makes them more modern and enduring than other books of a similar age and era. You might want to try these with a child who has run out of Horrid Henry and Tom Gates books to read. If you can’t get them interested in reading the stories initially, then do try them on the BBC Audio Books read by Martin Jarvis. He really has a knack of bringing them to life and making them very enjoyable to listen to.

I recommend them to boys and girls aged 7-11.

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