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Stinkbomb and Ketchup Face and The Great Big Story Nickers is the penultimate (so far) book in the series by John Dougherty. I had to read them out of sequel as there was demand from my children so I got to read the Christmas book first (which you can find reviewed on this site). I can see, now that I’ve read it, why this one was so popular I had to wait, because it is my favourite of the series so far.

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It follows the same arc as all the other books, just in case you were panicking. Stinkbomb and Ketchup Face have to foil the evil machinations of the badgers, with the help of the Shopping Trolley, ninja librarian Miss Butterworth, the King and Malcolm the cat. There are all the same jokes and tropes which make the other books so enjoyable too. But in this book we have the badgers tangling with the library and this is the joy for me. The badgers learn about writing themselves in and out of stories with the help of books like Treasure Island, and they play havoc with the plot line of the book they are actually in, popping up in all kinds of adventures and having a high old time.

This is very, very funny, particularly if you’ve read the books that are referred to in snippets as the badgers plunder their way through the shelves and pages of the library. It works incredibly well and there’s never too much of the other books to grate and the way Dougherty weaves them in and out of the plot is so ingenious. It’s the best children’s book I’ve read in 2016. It is to be hoped that some of the children who read this will be tempted to try the originals in their un badgered forms too, as he picks nice, exciting snippets to tantalise the reader. Although I suspect they will never be as much fun now, without you inserting your own badgery ideas in the mix.

The book has the usual fantastic illustrations by David Tazzyman. It works well for boys and girls, and middle aged women, and I am delighted that this series goes from strength to strength.

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