Sunday, 12 February 2023

THERE'S A BEAST IN THE BASEMENT!

 by Pamela Butchart; Artwork by Thomas Flintham 

                                                                                        



An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Literary Cat©, International Book Reviewer.

Hello, and welcome to my weekend Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade Fiction. If you want the selfie, please scroll on down!
 
 
Before we start, let's head over to Upper Much-Mousing to see what's been going on since last week's local mishaps and mayhem! . . . .

"Fire. FIRE! All out!" Mrs H stormed into the Drawing Room, decked out in her yellow Reserve Fire Fighters clothing and clutching an extinguisher, and a pail of water, which she duly tossed over the source of the smoke. When the room cleared a bit, her look of concern turned to confusion.

"What on earth is going on, Erin?"

"Erm, " Erin said, peering from behind a now lightly smouldering coal scuttle under the sash window. " I was signalling, Mrs H". 

"What?" 

"You know, smoke signals, like the American tribes used to say the tax man was coming."

"I'm fairly certain they didn't pay tax, at least not in those days. Besides, our local tax office closed after that little incident last year!" Mrs Hudson was alluding to the diplomatic incident that had seen 10 nations vying to create a new enclave and military foothold for their country within the English County of East Lambtonshire. It had all got very tense, seeing military forces from several nations infiltrating surrounding fields, woods and even farmer Clarksin's flock to steal a march in the negotiations. It ended peaceably when the Parish Council declared the village a princelesspality – as there was currently no prince – a neutral zone and tax haven. 

"No, I messaged the butcher." Erin glanced at the piece of paper by her side. "I've also messaged Mrs Singh about cancelling the papers for tomorrow. Plus, the Post Office about some parcels I'm expecting. Is there anyone I can message for you?" Erin looked earnestly at Mrs H, who was rolling her eyes and trying not to choke on the occasional acrid smell that wafted from the scuttle. 

"No, I'm alright, thank you. I think it's safer just to cycle into the village to shop. A brisk walk would do you good too! Too many of Mrs Singh's Jumbo Mini Treats!" Mrs H gave a knowing nod and looked at Erin's expanding midriff. "Out of interest, has anyone replied?" 

Having breathed but failed to reduce the size of her tummy paunch. Erin gave up and gave an embarrassed grin. "Oh yes. Mrs Singh ran up some coded naval flags to say that your order of sherry is ready for collection. And the post office sent a message by longbow—" Erin pointed to the arrow embedded in the window frame – that says you need to renew your MOT and road tax on the Brough Superior motorcycle." 

"Hmm. So no news from the butcher? I sent one of the homing pigeons off this morning. The other bird should have come home by now. Have you seen it?"

"A pale blue grey with a heart shaped white splodge on it's chest, a slight limp and missing a few feathers?" Erin asked whilst discretely sliding a feather from view. 

"The colours are right, though ours didn't have a limp or missing feathers. . . . Erin, you didn't, did you?!"
 
"Me, as though I would. No, no, no. Probably the same fox that took some of our hens. It dropped this note saying the joint will be ready Monday, and then half flew, half wobbled to the pigeon loft." Erin smiled sweetly.
 
"I think, dear, before you have any more bright ideas, or we get some of our own locals demanding your scalp, we should get on with the book review!"

"OK, but before I do, is there any chance you could relight this for me, please; I was half way through ordering some fish and chips?" 

Mrs H rolled her eyes and, after giving Erin a very HARD stare, went to get a mop.

This week's book review makes our fun adventures pale. So without further ado or smoke signals, here it is . . . .

 

 



AUTHOR:  PAMELA BUTCHART

 

Cover art by:  THOMAS FLINTHAM        

 

Published by: NOSY CROW


Publication date, Paperback:  12 JANUARY 2023

 


Paperback ISBN:   978 - 1 - 83994 - 051 - 4

 

Cover price for Paperback is £7.99

 

Pages:  219

 

Age range: 6-9 and up of course anyone else who wants a laugh!


Any dogs or cats? Oh YES, but you'll have to read the book to find out more!


 

 

SPOILER ALERT


Some as to plot direction and characters. 

 

 


Thank you to... 

 

We are exceedingly grateful to Nosy Crow and Hannah Prutton for the delightful and unexpected uplift to the week and a chance to share this with you before publication. 

 

As ever, our views are our own, and we only share reviews of books we have bought, been given as gifts, or received in exchange for an impartial review. 

 

First and foremost, the books we review are those we like and feel our global readers deserve to know about and that we hope they and their children will enjoy.

 

A little about the author....

 

Award winning childrens author, Pamela Butchart, lives in Dundee, Scotland. She lives with her son, and two cats, called Bear and Carlos. She says in her bio that if she wasnt working as a teacher cum writer, she'd be running a really posh hotel for stray cats!

 

The plot


First, let's meet our 7 to 8-year-old cast. Izzy is our narrator, and she and her friends, Zach, Jodi and Maisie, sit at the same desk in class. Jodi says she isn't the sort that needs to be in charge, but so actually is, whilst Maisie is scared, faints, and worries far too much. As for Zach, he is ever so helpful but can't tell a good lie if he tries. Together they conduct their secret missions and help save their school from monsters and aliens. 

 

And then there's Gary, Gary Petrie, the one kid in the class that really brings out the worse in Jodi. He is loud and is very sure of himself, worse for Jodi, he wants to be in charge. But he is OK, just like his dad. And as the team soon discovers, has hidden sides and talents!


So, introductions made, let's get to the action. Something strange is happening at school. The Headmaster, Mr Graves, is acting very strangely. Crawling on his hands and knees in the corridor, 'silent crying' during morning assembly whilst talking about vegan sausages, and bursting into the classrooms rummaging through the cupboards. 

 

When Gary's dad is parked at school one morning, blocking the entrance just as Izzy and her pals are heading in, Mr Graves comes out in panic mode. He hauls Mr Petrie off to some urgent task around the back of the school in the 'Out of Bounds' area. It is an opportunity too good to miss, and Jodi gets everyone to follow but can't shake off Gary. When they turn the corner, there is no sign of the adults!

Gary knows precisely where they are, and in exchange for the info Jodi so desperately needs, and much to her chagrin, he gets to join in their investigation of why Mr Graves was acting weird. 

 

When a teacher spots the kids, Gary gets himself locked down below. Later he insists whilst there, he heard scratching sounds.


Now, as one thing leads to another, Izzy and co get invited to Gary's place for a party, possibly with the best-tasting pizzas with the craziest toppings made by Mr Petrie. Here he spills the beans about what Mr Graves wanted and what he thought he saw in the basement. But when he mentioned the thing to Mr Graves, he was bustled out, and no more was done or said.

 

What happens next is a downward spiral of wild guesses, high-tech gadgets made by none other than Gary, and a lot of breaking of school rules and spying on people. 

 

Will the gang discover what monster lurks within the school basement and whether it is guarding some long-buried treasure? Will Gary ever stop being annoying yet incredibly helpful? And will Maisie stop fainting and screaming in terror! And Why is Mr Graves increasingly fraught, scratched up and weepy?

All this and more, including a Ninja-trained cat and lots of nasty smells, will be revealed when the dust finally settles on this adventuresome comedy of errors. 

 




So, what did we think?

 


This is the 13th book in the series featuring Izzy and her pals. Not having come across the others before, I do need to do catch-up. But it clearly is a popular series for the younger reader. I loved this one.


With titles like 'Baby Aliens Got My Teacher', 'Attack Of The Killer Dinner Ladies', and 'A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch', to name but three, I think you can see why.  

 

Mrs H was chuckling, snorting and guffawing all the time. And despite my best efforts to slow her down, we finished in one sitting. We then reread it today!

 

The style of the books is pacy and never without fun. It has an infectious exuberance and vibe that I think kids this age will love. And, being seen from Issy's perspective, we get to see the other, arguably more flamboyant characters, in all their glory. 

 

It is filled with mayhem, mishaps and misunderstandings typical of kids when they get together. It is all brought to life in short chapters, larger fonts and bursts of enlarged, explosive text, with images throughout (in the style of the cover) that really add to the feel of the text and excitement.



So . . . . 


Crunch time. 


A great book that fosters good reading habits and is highly entertaining. Thus, for us, it is of incredible value. 


The perfect antidote to a rainy afternoon, a car journey to that not-so-favourite aunt, or even a boring lesson. Just be sure to share it with the kids!


Want to buy a copy?

 

To get a copy, and avoid detention and beasts unknown definitely head to your local independent bookshop avoiding basements! There are plenty out there and each shop is just waiting to serve up whatever kind of mystery, fun and adventure you desire.

 

Pamela's author page on the Nosy Crow site can be found HERE or type this: https://nosycrow.com/contributor/pamela-butchart/

 


Nosy Crow's web page can be found HERE or type this:  https://nosycrow.com/

 

 

Thomas Flintham's web page can be found HERE or type this: https://www.thomasflintham.com/

 

 

 

And now it's selfie time! We are joining the Sunday Selfies bloghop, hosted by Janet Blue of the Cat on My Head blog.  

 


So I shall leave you with a selfie. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

 


I hope you enjoyed this week's post. Love Cats, read, and be kind to all sentient beings.


 

Till laters!

ERin

31 comments:

  1. Love your selfie ERin; we can see you're shooting 'hearts' from your nose! Purrs and hugs!

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  2. Love your selfie ERin; you're shooting 'hearts' from your nose! Purrs and hugs!

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  3. We agree, that's a great "heart" selfie!!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I have grown rather fond of my nose heart.
      ERin

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  4. That is a simply meowvelous selfie, Erin!

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    1. Bless you. I posed well for this one. We tried to get the book in too, but I ran off to get a snack and didnt go back πŸ™‚.
      ERin

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  5. ER what a super model selfie
    Hugs Cecilia

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  6. Erin, your selfie this week is so sweet and beautiful!

    That book sounds like a lot of fun. We love the color illustration, and the fact that there is a Ninja-trained cat seals the deal ... we so want to read this one. :)

    Paws crossed that your fish and chips order makes its way to you.

    Hugs to you and Mrs. H!

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  7. Dearest Erin! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your portrait today! Your smile and the heart on your nose were purrticularly inviting today! Must be that LOVE is the highlight this week (andm you know I love you!) We always love to hear all the things you do and your new modes of communication should be taken up by everyone, though I do believe our Mourning Doves would NOT carry messages to the grocery and if they did, they would probably end up plucked and baked and in the cooked chicken case...but I digress, that book (and series) sounds incredible! You do find the most interesting stories. No enjoy your fish and chips with Ms H! Keep being awesome, purrs Marvelous Marv

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  8. That sounds like a fun book and goodness, that cover is a fun one. Love your beautiful selfie sweet Princess Erin!

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    1. I love the colours and image. Spot on for the modern young reader.
      ERin

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  9. That is such a great selfie, Erin!
    That looks to be a great read as well. You always find the best books!

    We need to try some of your messaging tricks...esp when the peeps are not at home, LOL!!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, do avoid them being home. Also avoid setting fire to anything!
      The great books seem to come our way. We are discerning though, and Mrs H has a good eye for what I like.
      ERin

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  10. That book sounds like so much fun! Like something that would take me right back to my childhood. And that is one purrfect selfie too!

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    1. That is so true. Kids have the biggest imaginations. Something adults need to recapture so they can enjoy these fine adventures.
      ERin

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  11. Oh I love the cover. Surely there IS a beast in the basement!!!

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    1. All will be discovered once you've read the book and had a big giggle too. Spot on for humour!
      ERin

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  12. Hello ERin. A great good morning to you and your human family. You are a beautiful Tuxie. I am too. We could conquer the world if we wanted to. XXXX

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  13. Charlee: "Whew! Good thing we don't have a basement for there to be a beast in it!"
    Lulu: "We do have an attic you know."
    Charlee: "NOOOOOO!!!!"

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    Replies
    1. A beast in the attic, now that would be fun and scary! Maybe insist they do some dusting whilst they up there?
      ERin

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  14. That does sound like a fun book, even for us "older kids" who refuse to grow up! Your selfie is beautiful.

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    1. We love reading these stories. Books aimed at a specific age range are actually books that anyone can read. Folks forget that and miss out on so many absorbing, funny and highly intelligent and thought provoking adventures.
      ERin

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  15. Your story sounded really fabulous, sweet Erin, that could be a book of its own😸btw did you say feathers...yummy..oopsπŸ™Š Your Selfie is purrfect with your heartshaped nosie, so specialπŸ’— Double Pawkisses for a Happy Valentine's Day to allπŸΎπŸ˜½πŸ’ž

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    1. Percy the pigeon is fine, by the way, just caught me off guard and I reacted out of instinct and swiped at him. Pigeon feathers get everywhere, and they only have to sneeze and there is enough to fill a small pillow πŸ™‚ πŸ•Š️
      ERin

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  16. Replies
    1. Thank you. That is my post book review pose. I do try and look interlectual some days! πŸ™‚
      ERin

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