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This morning I read Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright by Chris Riddell. It was the perfect antidote to finishing Pratchett’s Shepherd’s Crown yesterday. I confess that I was bit broken and this mended me.

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Long term readers will know I love Riddell and pretty much anything that he writes/illustrates. As he is currently Children’s Laureate here in the UK I am glad to say that we are being absolutely spoiled in terms of output. Long may it last.

Goth Girl is the fourth full length adventure for Goth Girl (there is also a World Book Day, shorter adventure, which is also fantastic). In this book Ada and her father host a literary dog show at Ghastly-Gorm Hall and Ada and her friends explore strange goings on in the night, which may be the resident ghosts playing up, but which may also be something more troubling. Only time will tell.

We have the usual cast of characters; Maltravers the unpleasant game keeper, Mrs. Beat ’em the cook, Lord Goth, and Ada’s friends and fellow detectives when it comes to figuring out what is amiss at the hall. Then there are some splendid new additions with literary jokes aplenty in the three Vicarage sisters, Emily, Anne and Charlotte and their brother Bramble, four devoted dog owners including Plain Austen and Homily Dickinson, and a whole host of other marvellously funny characters. My particular favourite being Chris Riddell lampooning himself.

I love Goth Girl, because wonderful as they are to read in their own right, and children will absolutely and do absolutely enjoy them just for the straightforward narrative, there is so much more to them if you know your history and literature. As a fairly well read adult I find all the in jokes and puns an absolute delight and they really do lift the books to completely new heights. There are allusions here to everything from the earliest computers to Elsa from Frozen and in between.

The illustrations, as ever, are wonderful in and of themselves and there is so much to see and read on every page it’s almost like being a detective yourself at times. I love the additional extra, tiny book at the end, and even the end pages.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly to adults who want something to read to children they can really get their teeth into themselves and actively want to read to them. It’s also perfect for readers aged 7 and up, boys and girls. It would make a fantastic transitional or chapter book for newly confident readers but will also stand many re-readings as the reader grows more skilled in comprehension.

I cannot wait for the next book.

 

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