The Legend of Spud Murphy

The Legend of Spud Murphy

4.8 6
by Eoin Colfer

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The name Spud Murphy strikes fear into the hearts of children everywhere. Grown-ups think she's a kindly old librarian, but kids know the truth. They've heard all about the gas-powered spud gun she keeps hidden under her desk-make so much as a sound in Spud's library, and you could get spudded with soggy potatoes. Laugh out loud, and you may never be seen again...

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The name Spud Murphy strikes fear into the hearts of children everywhere. Grown-ups think she's a kindly old librarian, but kids know the truth. They've heard all about the gas-powered spud gun she keeps hidden under her desk-make so much as a sound in Spud's library, and you could get spudded with soggy potatoes. Laugh out loud, and you may never be seen again...

Brothers Will and Marty Woodman have been ordered to spend their summer at the library, under the supervision of the terrifying librarian. Will the brothers figure out a way to survive a season marooned on the carpet of Spud's children's section? Or will they discover a new interest that surprises even them?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The titular librarian grumbles when two brothers arrive, but softens when she finds them hooked on books. "The story's comic moments, brevity and message are well targeted to reluctant readers," according to PW. Ages 7-11. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Overwhelmed by the prospect of summer vacation with their five boys ages ten and under, Will and Marty's parents decide the older two will spend several afternoons a week reading at the library. The boys think this is a punishment worse than death, for every kid in town knows that the "lovely old" librarian uses a gas-powered spud gun that can fire a potato half-way across the library to make kids behave, keeping them on the small carpet in the children's area, and limiting them to reading the four shelves of books there. After several boring afternoons of sitting on the carpet, pretending to read, and a couple of run-ins with Spud (although none with her infamous gun), they start actually reading the words in the books. Sucked in by the magic and adventure, the boys become converts to reading and libraries. Narrated by young Will, Colfer's latest is an easy read, with several amusing moments. His skill as a storyteller holds up a rather weak plot. The adroit writing allows young readers to "see" Mrs. Murphy and travel with both Will and Marty as each eventually travels beyond the patterned carpet, although not necessarily for the right reasons. Certainly not a conventional librarian (at least I hope not!), Mrs. Murphy has a rational for her behavior and a sense of humor to boot. Put this in the hands of a young reluctant reader, and he or she may well be a convert too. 2004, Hyperion Books for Children, Ages 7 to 10.
—Peg Glisson
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-This hilarious offering is the first in a new chapter-book series. When their parents become fed up with their boisterous behavior during summer vacation, Will and Marty Woodman are forced to do something educational: "Reading. It's perfect. How can you get into trouble reading a book?" The brothers will spend time at the library, despite their worries about the librarian, Mrs. "Spud" Murphy, who is feared by all children. According to the rumors, she uses a gas-powered gun to shoot potatoes at kids who make too much noise. When Mom drops them off later that afternoon, Mrs. Murphy leads them to the children's section and warns them that they are not to venture off of the carpet. Readers will immediately pick up that Marty has a problem following the rules and trouble ensues when he steps off the rug to cause some mischief. However, he has met his match in Spud, who silently appears on the scene like a "ninja librarian." The cartoon illustrations enhance the funny mood of the story. Youngsters, especially reluctant readers, will laugh out loud at this clever book, which can also be read aloud. A good choice for fans of Dav Pilkey, Jon Scieszka, and Ian Whybrow.-Christine McGinty, Albany Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Being one of five brothers isn't easy on Will Woodman. He's in the upper middle, so he's too young to be in charge and too old to escape blame through strategic use of cuteness. He and his elder brother Marty are mortified when their parents decide to drop them off at the library a few times a week. They're mortified because Spud Murphy is their town librarian, and she hates children. She makes youngsters stay in the children's area, which is in front of a single shelf of kids' books on a small square of carpet. Marty tests Spud and ends up with a very embarrassing stamp in permanent ink on his arm. The boys accidentally discover that reading is fun and quickly exhaust the children's books. When shy Will breaks library rules in search of a new book, Spud's reaction and Will's punishment are nothing like he expected. Colfer aims at a younger audience and hilariously hits the mark. Spud-er, Angela-Murphy is not a stereotypical librarian by any stretch, and young readers will hoot over Will's wry narration. (Fiction. 7-12)

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Product Details

Hyperion/Miramax Kid
Publication date:
Will and Marty Series
Product dimensions:
5.19(w) x 7.38(h) x (d)
Age Range:
7 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Legend of SPUD MURPHY

By Eoin Colfer

Hyperion Books for Children

Copyright © 2004 Eoin Colfer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7868-5501-0

Chapter One


I've got four brothers. Imagine that. Five boys under eleven all living in the same house.

On wet summer days, our house gets very crowded. If we each bring two friends home, then there could be fifteen of us crammed into the house. At least eight will be roaring like lunatics, and the rest will be dying to go to the toilet. The flusher on our toilet snaps off about once every three months.

When my dad came home one day and found three sons and four strangers covered with war paint, swinging on the bedroom curtains, he decided that something had to be done. It didn't help that the war paint was stolen from Mom's makeup box.

"No more bringing friends home!" Dad declared after the warriors' parents had collected them.

"That's not fair," said Marty, the biggest brother, mascara streaking his cheeks. "That punishment really affects me because I'm popular, but Will's best friend is his Action Man."

Will. That's me. I love that Action Man.

Donnie, Bert, and HP started complaining, too. But only because they're little brothers, and that's what little brothers do for a living. I know that technically I'm a little brother, too, but I'm in the big-brother half of the family.

Having one little brother is bad enough, but havingthree is too much punishment for one person. That's enough punishment for an entire housing development. The trouble with little brothers is that they are never blamed for anything. All Donnie, Bert, and HP have to do is bat their blue eyes and let their bottom lips wobble a bit, and they are forgiven for everything. Donnie, Bert, and HP could stick an ax in my head and they'd still get off with ten minutes' no TV and a stern look. The only things that Marty and I ever agree on is that our three younger brothers are spoiled rotten.

"This house is a madhouse," said Dad.

"And he's the chief lunatic," I said, pointing to Marty.

"I'm not the one talking to dolls," retorted Marty.

That hurt. "Action Man is not a doll."

"Quiet!" said Dad through gritted teeth. "There must be something we can find for you to do during the summer. Something to get you out of the house."

"Not my babies," said Mom, hugging the younger-brother squad tightly. They gave her the full baby treatment-big baby eyes, gap-tooth smiles-and HP even sucked his thumb. That kid has no shame.

"Maybe not those three. But Will and Marty are nine and ten now. We can find something for them. Something educational."

Marty and I groaned. Educational hobbies are the worst kind. They're like school during the summer.

Marty tried to save us. "Remember the last educational hobby? The art classes. I was sick for days."

"That was your own fault," said Mom.

"I only had a drink of water."

"You are not supposed to drink the water that people use to wash their brushes."

Dad was thinking. "What about the library?" he said, finally.

"What about it?" I said, trying to sound casual, but my stomach was churning.

"You both could join. Reading. It's perfect. How can you cause trouble reading a book?"

"Yes, of course, it's educational too," Mom agreed.

"How is it educational?" I asked, terrified by the idea. "I'd much rather be outside riding a horse than inside reading about one."

My mother tousled my hair. "Because, Will, sometimes the only horse you can ride is the one in your head."

I had no idea what that meant.

"Don't make us join the library," Marty begged. "It's too dangerous."

"Dangerous? How could a library be dangerous?" Dad asked.

"It's not the library," Marty whispered. "It's the librarian."

"Mrs. Murphy?" said Mom. "She's a lovely old lady."

The problem with grown-ups is that they only see what's on the outside. But kids know the real truth. People forget to be on their best behavior around kids, because nobody believes a word we say. Every kid in our town knew about Mrs. Murphy. She was one of those people that kids steer clear of. Like Miss White, the teacher with the evil eye, or old Ned Sawyer, the tramp with the drooling dog.

"She's not a lovely old lady," I said. "She's a total nut."

"Will! That's a terrible thing to say."

"But she is, Mom. She hates kids and she used to be a spy in the army. Tracking kids from enemy countries."

"Now you're being ridiculous."

"She has a spud gun under her desk," added Marty. "A gas-powered one that takes an entire potato in the barrel. She shoots kids with it if they make a noise in the library. That's why we call her Spud Murphy."

My mother thought this was all very funny. "A spud gun! You'll say anything to avoid reading a book."

"It's true!" Marty shouted. "Do you know Ugly Frank, from number forty-seven?"

My mother tried to look stern. "You shouldn't call poor Frank ugly."

"Well, how do you think he got that way? Spud Murphy spudded him."

Mom waved her hands as if two annoying birds were flapping around her ears.

"I've heard enough. You two are going to the library for the afternoon and that's it. We'll make some sandwiches."

We stood in the kitchen glumly. Sandwiches wouldn't be much use against Spud Murphy and her gas-powered spud gun.

Chapter Two


Of course, the little brothers thought this was hilarious.

"Nice knowing you," said Donnie, shaking my hand.

"Yeth," said HP, the word whistling through the gap where his front teeth used to be. "Nithe knowing you."

Five years old and already a smart aleck.

"Can I have your Walkman?" asked Bert, who was already wearing it.

I swatted them with my Action Man. "Do you hear them, Mom? They're teasing us already."

"Oh, they don't mean it," said Mom. "Do you, my little men?"

"No, Mommy."

Mom gave them a gummi bear each. I thought my head would pop with the unfairness of it all.

"Now, Marty and Will, go upstairs and wash off the rest of my lipstick. We leave in ten minutes."

There was no escape. We pleaded and whined for ten minutes solid, but Mom was not giving an inch.

"The library will be good for you," she said, belting us tightly into the backseat of the car. "You might even learn something."


Excerpted from The Legend of SPUD MURPHY by Eoin Colfer Copyright © 2004 by Eoin Colfer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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