Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Fall of Fergal

Fall of Fergal

3.5 2
by Philip Ardagh, David Roberts (Illustrator)

See All Formats & Editions

The very last words young Fergal McNally heard in his life were: "Don't lean out of that window!" The very last sounds were probably the air whistling past his sticky-out ears as he fell the fourteen stories, the honk of traffic horns below (getting nearer and nearer, of course), and-possibly-the "SP" of the "SPLAT!" he himself made as he hit the


The very last words young Fergal McNally heard in his life were: "Don't lean out of that window!" The very last sounds were probably the air whistling past his sticky-out ears as he fell the fourteen stories, the honk of traffic horns below (getting nearer and nearer, of course), and-possibly-the "SP" of the "SPLAT!" he himself made as he hit the pavement. Fergal certainly wouldn't have heard more than the "SP," though, because by the time the "LAT!" part had followed, he would have been well and truly dead.

The first in a darkly hilarious new series from the bestselling author of the Eddie Dickens Trilogy

Philip Ardagh's Unlikely Exploits series chart the extraordinary changes in fortune of the downtrodden McNally family, beginning with The Fall of Fergal. The setting is an unidentified country suffering from an unexpected breakout of large holes.

The McNally children find themselves in the Dell Hotel, the venue for the final of the Tap 'n' Type typing competition, surrounded by a strange assortment of characters ranging from Twinkle-Toes Tweedy, the house detective, to Mr. Peach, a ventriloquist with a very large mustache.

With young Fergal McNally falling to his death on page one, the only way for the McNallys is up . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
This first in a planned trio of books called the Unlikely Exploits has more plot than Ardagh's Eddie Dickens Trilogy, but a bit less humor. The novel begins with Fergal McNally's catastrophic fall from the 14th floor of the Dell Hotel. Fergal's father, Captain Rufus McNally, a retired war hero who became "bitter, sick, and twisted" after losing his leg in a war injury, has an "excused parenting" note from his doctor and leaves the rearing of his children to eldest daughter Jackie. When his other daughter, Le Fay, becomes a finalist in a typing competition, Jackie decides to take all of the siblings by bus to go and cheer her on. Ardagh plants the usual twists and turns of plot, introducing a ventriloquist/poet named Hieronymous Peach, who befriends them on the bus trip and also figures prominently in the typing competition, and a house detective known as Twinkle-Toes Tweedy ("Stick around long enough and you'll find out why," the author/narrator says of the nickname); the detectives ties to Rufus McNally are revealed in the end. In addition to fun names and clever quips, the author plugs in often paragraph-long parenthetical asides (he writes of the word oxymoron, "[It] may sound like an idiot with breathing difficulties but actually means something that contradicts itself"). The tragic event around which the novel revolves provides plenty of black comedy to keep readers entertained. Ages 8-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
What is this story coming to? Here it is supposed to be about Fergal's first unlikely exploit and on the very first page he falls 14 stories from a window of the Dell Hotel and is well and truly dead. In the middle of the book Fergal's trip to the morgue is described and in the end, readers get a clue to the lifeless Fergal's future exploits. The reader may wonder if, now that Fergal is dead, turning the page is worth the effort. Indeed it is because the storyteller, in a breezy, light-hearted style, describes the intriguing adventures of Fergal and his family. Readers are treated to the story of Fergal's quick-witted sister, LeFay McNally. She has been chosen to come to the big city to participate in Tap, �n Type's grand finals for the young typist of the year. While she settles in at the hotel, the rest of the McNallys are on a bus on their way to join her for the grand finals. Suddenly the bus stops. In the roadway is a hole so large that the bus cannot proceed. But that does not stop the McNallys from reaching their destination where they fall into more misadventures as the story takes some surprising turns and twists. The author lives near the seaside in England with his wife and two cats. He has written more than 60 children's books, sometimes, but not now, about quite serious things. 2004 (orig. 2002), Henry Holt and Company, Ages 8 to 12.
—Janet Crane Barley
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-"The very last words young Fergal McNally heard in his life were: `Don't lean out of that window!'" It's a great hook for a dark tale that begins with the end and works its way backward, but the device is not entirely successful. Widowed Captain McNally is a former sailor and war hero who has turned to drinking. His oldest daughter, Jackie, takes care of her four siblings. When Le Fay wins a spot in the national grand finals for a typing competition, Jackie devises a plan for the other children to attend the event; they will sneak into Le Fay's hotel room. After uncovering a plot by another competitor to cheat her out of the championship, Fergal tragically falls to his death. When the detective sees the remaining children in the hotel room, he notices a resemblance between them and an old sailor who once saved his life. A strange twist at the end leads the way to the next book in the series. Dropping prophetic hints throughout, Ardagh ties the loose ends together nicely and talks to readers in a series of asides. Unfortunately, the sequencing of the story, starting with Fergal, skipping back to introduce the characters and tell the story, occasionally fast forwarding again, is distracting and results in a fragmented narrative. Ardagh's dark sense of humor is particularly evident in his graphic description of Fergal's fall and subsequent trip to the morgue. The pen-and-ink line drawings are eerily sinister and somewhat disturbing. This British author's dry, off-the-wall wit will appeal to a limited audience.-Kit Vaughan, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The famously large and hairy author of the "Eddie Dickens" trilogy opens a new trio of Unfortunate Events-er, "Unlikely Exploits," with the fatal plummet of young Fergal McNally from a 14th-floor window. What follows, with a great deal of backtracking, scene-jumping, and silly authorial interjections, introduces the rest of the beleaguered McNally clan, from kindhearted Le Fay, surprise finalist in a nationwide typing contest, and her four siblings, to embittered, alcoholic ex-war hero-and, thanks to a doctor's dispensation, ex-parent-Rufus. Depicting these, along with a supporting cast that includes the likes of porky, arrogant contestant Graham Large and decidedly peculiar ventriloquist Hieronymus Peach, with pop-eyed panache in a profusion of comical sketches, Ardagh carries his tale through triumphs and tragedy, ending on a down note-though there are signs that Fergal (or, at least, some significant parts of him) will be back in subsequent episodes. Dahl and Snicket fans will find themselves on familiar ground. (Fiction. 10-12)

Product Details

San Val
Publication date:
Edition description:
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Over six and a half feet tall, with a bushy beard, there's no doubt that Philip Ardagh is not only very big but also very hairy. He writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages, and his Eddie Dickens Trilogy books are bestsellers. When not writing silly books, Mr. Ardagh is very serious indeed and frowns a great deal. He lives with a wife and son and a cat in a seaside town somewhere in England.

David Roberts has illustrated several books for children, including The Eddie Dickens Trilogy, and lives in England.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews