by Simon Mason, Helen Stephens

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Four funny and fabulous stories told by each member of the unforgettable Quigley family. Meet Dad, Mum, Will, and Lucy, whose hilarious exploits have created a modern classic for bedtime reading, a treat to be enjoyed by both old and young.

From the Hardcover edition.  See more details below


Four funny and fabulous stories told by each member of the unforgettable Quigley family. Meet Dad, Mum, Will, and Lucy, whose hilarious exploits have created a modern classic for bedtime reading, a treat to be enjoyed by both old and young.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"The author affects a blithe tone for this engaging bit of fluff about the humorous vexations of an ordinary British family," wrote PW. Ages 5-12. (Oct.) THE THIEF LORD Cornelia Funke, trans. by Oliver Latsch. Scholastic, $6.99 ISBN 0-439-42089-X. "Wacky characters bring energy to this entertaining novel about thieving children, a disguise-obsessed detective and a magical merry-go-round," wrote PW. Ages 9-12. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The Quigleys are a pretty ordinary sort of family. There is Mum and Dad, Lucy and Will. They each have a story in this little book and each story is sort of...well...ordinary. And yet, these four stories manage to be special and funny. For example, in the first story, Dad wants to watch a football match very much but he has agreed to babysit his best friend's children. He sees no conflict between watching his match and babysitting. He does not, however, factor in the sheer determination of the children to be as difficult and obnoxious as possible. What follows is a comical series of events, a tussle of wills between Dad and the children he is supposed to be minding. Finally Dad decides to ignore the kids and their shenanigans. He watches his game and things settle down. It is only when he goes to check on the children that he finds that one of them is missing. Who would have thought so much chaos could ensue from something as simple as babysitting and watching a football game. The other stories are similar in that a very simple idea grows and grows into something so much bigger than it was before-something funny and something memorable. The little girl of the family, Lucy, decides that she is going to participate in a wedding dressed up as a bee and not wearing some silly bridesmaid dress; Will, her brother, decides that he wants a Harpy Eagle for Christmas; and Mum has a truly awful birthday which somehow, by some miracle, turns out to be not so awful after all. With gentle tongue-in-cheek and classic understated humor, Simon Mason has created a family we can easily grow to love and laugh with. Simple and amusing black-line illustrations can be found throughout the book. 2003, RandomHouse, Ages 7 to 9.
— Marya Jansen-Gruber
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-In this quick read, each of four chapters is devoted to a different member of the Quigley family. Dad baby-sits for neighbors and manages to "lose" one of the children temporarily, headstrong Lucy appears as a junior bridesmaid in a self-made bee costume, Lucy and Will guiltily try to make up for being beastly on Mum's birthday, and Will finally gets the pet he wants. Children will enjoy the plentiful dialogue, likable family, mixture of low-key and over-the-top humor, and occasional black-line illustrations. Others may note, and some be bothered by, details not usually included in popular reading for this audience: the siblings make Mum a decidedly mixed drink to cheer her up, are tolerant of Dad's swearing ("Christ Almighty"), and observe an adult's speech impediment as "frightening." However, the story presents a slice of British family life in an urban neighborhood that readers who enjoy the saucy "Junie B. Jones" series (Random) can slide right into.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
As droll as a Britcom and as true to the spirit of family life as the all-American Quimbys, this import introduces the Quigleys: siblings Lucy and Will and their slightly feckless but loving parents. Each of four episodic chapters focuses on one family member. In one, Dad accepts a babysitting assignment from neighbors even though it conflicts with his desire to watch a thrilling football game on television, and as a consequence he loses one of his charges. In another, Lucy insists that she will wear a bee costume instead of a bridesmaid's dress in a wedding. "All the Quigleys could be a little stubborn," but her parents have no idea just how stubborn Lucy can be. In the third, Mum's birthday is ruined when Dad's train is delayed and she must miss the ballet. The children manage to salvage the occasion by making her a party involving a ballet of their own creation, toast with chocolate spread, a variety of alcoholic beverages found in the back of the cupboard, and finally a madcap entrance by Dad with roses between his teeth. This chapter, while it may not find its way into school reading anthologies, is laugh-out-loud funny. The concluding chapter describes Will's campaign to receive a Harpy Eagle for Christmas despite the family's "no pets" rule. This includes the dropping of pointed hints, " . . . a way to get what you want without bother," which proves to be very hard work. The deadpan humor is applied to small but universal dramas of everyday family life, which are reinforced by a pattern of sly repetitions that develop the characters and situations to comic effect. Read either aloud or independently, this is a family story to be shared, the characters not soon forgotten. Plentifulline drawings extend the fun. (Fiction. 7-10)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
7 MB
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Read an Excerpt


The Quigleys lived in the middle of their street, in a house with a red door. There was a mass of rose bushes in the front yard and a smell of cat. The Quiglegs didn't have a cat. The smell was made by other people's cats.

Will Quigley was tall and blonde. His sister Lucy was small and chunky. For some reason Mum and Dad hardly ever called her Lucy. They called her Poodle, or sometimes Poodlefish. They didn't call Win anything but Will. No-one could explain this.

The Peacheys lived two doors down in a house without a front fence. Mr Peacheg Ben - had planted a single laurel bush with dusty leaves, which cats avoided, even the Peacheys' own, Fatbrain. 'Not enough cover,' Ben said smugly. Fatbrain favoured the Quiglegs' rose bushes. Ben's children were Will and Lucy's best friends. Their names were Elizabeth, Timothy and Pokehead.

One afternoon there was a knock at the door. Lucy was the first to reach it. She liked answering the door - she was just tall enough to open it, standing on tiptoe on the skirting board and pulling herself up by the handle to reach the latch. She liked opening it a crack and peeping out.

'Hullo,' Ben said, peeping in. 'There's a smell out here.'

'I know,' Lucy said. 'It's cat's poo.'

After a while she let him in. Lucy liked Ben. She liked his fair hair and his glasses. They stood together in the hall.

'Mum's in bed,' Lucy said. 'Mums need rest,' she added.

Ben asked if her dad was in.

Will appeared brieflye at the top of the stairs, wearing boxing gloves and carrying a copy of The Beano, and drifted away again. Then Dad came out of his study, looking distracted. He often looked distracted. It wasn't just his face that looked distracted, it was his hair and and arms and eyebrows too. Even the sleeves of his shirt looked distracted.

He came downstairs and talked to Ben. It seemed that tonight was the night of Ben's office party, and their babysitter had let them down. Dad pulled his ears and looked friendly. When he wanted to, Dad could look very friendly.

'Yes, of course , he said. 'I'd be happy to.'

When Ben had gone, Lucjj said to Dad, 'Are Ijou going to babljsit for Elizabeth, Timothjj and Pokehead?'
Dad nodded. 'Tonight?'
He nodded again.
'Can I come?'
He shook his head.
'I could help.'
'You couldn't.'
'I could.'
'You couldn't, Poodlefish.'
'I could help with the midnight feast.'
'There won't be a midnight feast.'
'Why won't there be a midnight feast?'

'Because of the football match.'

Lucq looked at him.

'I don't mean football match,' Dad said quickl1j. 'I mean because of having to go to sleep. Or Timothy won't be able to play in his football match tomorrow.'

Lucy said, 'Are you going to be watching football on the television all evening?'

'Don't be silly,' Dad said. 'I'll be babysitting. Babysitting's a very responsible job.'

When Dad said goodnight to Lucy and Will that evening, he told them he was going round to the Peacheys' house and said that they were not to disturb Mum. 'Mum's very tired,' he said.

Will, in the top bunk, said, 'Are babysitting?'

Dad nodded.

'Can I come?' Win sat up in bed.
'Timothy's got a new computer game.'


Will scowled.

'Dad's going to watch the football,' Lucy said helpfully.

Will scowled so hard the whole of his forehead seemed to fold down over his face.

'Nonsense,' Dad sold quickly. 'Anyway, it's not till later.'

'You never let me do what I want Win said. 'Never. And you do what you want all the time.'

'Now, Will.'

'You never ever let me do anything I want. You never ever ever . . .'

'Stop it, Will, before I get cross. Now, come on. Give me a kiss before I go.'

Will immediately rolled as far away from Dad as it was possible to get, and put his hands over his ears. Dad lifted his face to the ceiling and shouted, 'Just give me a kiss!' And at once there was a cry from upstairs and the sound of coughing, and Mum called out weakly, 'What's going on? Who woke me up?'

Dad left the room, looking distracted.

The Peacheys' house was exactly the same as the Quigleys', but everything was the other wag round. It was like looking in a mirror. You turned left, not night, to go into the living room. The stairs went up to the right, not the left, and when you got to the top you turned left, not right, into the bathroom. Even the cord for the bathroom light was hanging on the wrong side of the bathroom door.

'Good,' Dad said, as he finished reading a story to Timothy and Pokehead in the living room. 'Up we go. Elizabeth's already in bed.'

Timothy and Pokehead ignored him.

'Bedtime,' Dad said, glancing at his watch. 'You monsters,' he added.

'I don't go to bed,' Pokehead said conversationally.

'She doesn't,' Timothy said.

'Of course she does,' Dad said. 'We all go to bed. We all need our sleep.'

'I don't,' Pokehead said. She turned her face to him and stared at him unblinkingly. She had a wide face, very smooth skin and deep-set clear eyes. She looked capable of anything.

Dad said, 'Remember what your mum and dad said.'

'They can't do anything with me either,' Pokehead said.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Meet the Author

Simon Mason has written three adult novels. This is his first children’s book.

From the Hardcover edition.

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