The School Librarian
Grimwood Streep is the owner of Dunnydark Hall, and has not set foot outside it for many years. With just the company of a bad-tempered cook and a devoted butler his life has become dull and predictable. When Jimbo, an unknown great nephew turns up at the door with a suitcase in his hand, he is the first visitor since 1977, and the first of many. For his arrival turns life at the Hall upside down and precipitates the influx of an eclectic cast of characters: a posse of birdwatchers, three Dutch ladies all called Halana, their Norwegian suitor Ulf, an agreeable new cook, the nefarious Evil Eric, a troupe of actors playing A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, most improbably of all, ‘Dame Judi’.
The humour comes from some good-natured slapstick (much falling out of trees, of windows, into water, and so on) and a lot of linguistic misunderstandings resulting from the endless malapropisms of the Halanas. Although the ‘boy’ of the title is the catalyst for all that happens, events are largely seen through Grimwood’s eyes – for reasons that become evident at the end. Longlisted for this year’s* Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition, it has the feel of a family comedy sitcom with enough laughs and plot twists to keep you interested. The banter, physical comedy and fardcal happenings are something readers from upper primary and into secondary ages will either love or hate, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it on our television screens before too long.
*Please note, this books was longlisted in 2008, not 2012.
“Mum, here is the book review. This is a great book. It has the most character of any book I’ve ever read. It is about a boy called Jimbo who goes to Dunnydark hall to stay with his Great-Uncle Grimwood Streep, who has not been outside Dunnydark for over a quarter of a century. This is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. This book is one of the best books I’ve read this year!”
William Shirras, critic, aged 11