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The Fantastic Family Whipple

The Fantastic Family Whipple

4.2 8
by Matthew Ward

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For every child who’s ever dreamed of being in the Guinness Book of World Records comes the story of eleven-year-old Arthur Whipple and his fantastic family of world record breakers . . .

- Most Crème Brulée Eaten in One Minute
- Highest Number of Matching Outfits Worn by a Stuffed Toy and Its Owner
- Youngest Person to


For every child who’s ever dreamed of being in the Guinness Book of World Records comes the story of eleven-year-old Arthur Whipple and his fantastic family of world record breakers . . .

- Most Crème Brulée Eaten in One Minute
- Highest Number of Matching Outfits Worn by a Stuffed Toy and Its Owner
- Youngest Person to Summit the Third-Highest Mountain in the World

These are just three of the 49,521 records won by Arthur’s twelve brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, unlike his siblings, Arthur hasn’t broken a single, solitary world record! But when the Whipples suffer a spate of catastrophes and a curious amount of attention from a pair of irregularly sized and unusually menacing clowns, Arthur might be the only one who can save his family from losing their collective crown . . . or worse.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As the only ordinary member of a family obsessed with breaking world records, 11-year-old Arthur Whipple has long disappointed his overachieving parents. While his siblings hold records like Most Accomplished Four-Year-Old Painter on Earth and Highest Note Ever Sung in Live Performance, Arthur has never set a single one. With the Unsafe Sports Showdown and the World Records World Championship fast approaching, Arthur anticipates finally making a contribution to the Whipple legend and redeeming himself. However, when mysterious accidents start befalling his family, he turns his talents toward mystery-solving instead, a task involving evil clowns, a rival family, and more. Ward’s debut has echoes of Roald Dahl, with the setting and story line falling somewhere between whimsical and pleasantly absurd. The idea of a world obsessed with extremes, such as Most Awards Presented in a Single Day, is played with tongue-in-cheek seriousness, allowing for humor, drama, and a healthy dose of adventure. It’s a genuinely fun and comically ludicrous romp, clearly worthy of Most World Records Outside of a World Records Book. Ages 8–up. Agent: Laura Rennert and Lara Perkins, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Echoes of Roald Dahl.... A genuinely fun and comically ludicrous romp, clearly worthy of Most World Records Outside of a World Records Book." --Publishers Weekly

"One of the most fun listening experiences of the year." --Publishers Weekly on the audio edition, starred review

"First-time author Matthew Ward's constant parade of sight gags, stage business, and preposterous feats is highly entertaining." --Common Sense Media

"A rollicking, record-breaking romp, running rife with riotous ribaldry! And featuring even more r's than this quote!"--Robert Paul Weston, award-winning author of Zorgamazoo and The Creature Department

School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Poor Arthur Whipple. He's about to turn 12 and has yet to distinguish himself among his huge family of overachieving world-record breakers. From failing to achieve the "Longest Time without Sleeping" record to flubbing the one for standing on one foot, Arthur's efforts to contribute to his family's fame are proving elusive. But when a mysterious curse seems to befall the Whipples, it might be up to Arthur to save them. As the mysteries pile up and the Whipple clan finds itself on the losing side of the World Record Championships, the young hero turns his talents to ferreting out clues and suspects behind his family's misfortunes. This novel's pace is frenetic; the action is over-the-top, as are the myriad world records (e.g., "The World's Largest Piece of French Toast," "Longest Continuous Time Playing an Accordion"). Think vaudeville on a roller coaster. There's humor and mayhem, and red herrings and nefarious suspects abound. The pace may delight some readers, while others will become exhausted. Even those who love it may feel frustrated that the mystery is not solved and they must hang on for a second installment. Give this one to readers with solid attention spans.—Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Unfortunately ordinary in an extraordinary family, 11-year-old Arthur demonstrates sympathy and good sportsmanship as he works to find those responsible for his family's recent disasters and clear their former-gangster chef's name while continuing his fruitless search for a world record of any kind. The Whipple family's lives are devoted to adding to their collection of entries in Grazelby's Guide to World Records and Fantastic Feats. Recent disasters and stiff competition from their new neighbors, the Goldwins, threaten their position at the top of the record-breaker heap. With the stage set for a showdown at the Unsafe Sports competition, 200 pages in, readers may be ready for a climax and resolution. Instead there is yet another near-disaster, and all evidence points to faithful cook Sammy the Spatula, whose dialogue is written with a cockney accent. Arthur and new friend Ruby Goldwin--a noncompetitor--set out to find the giant and dwarf clowns they believe to be the real culprits. The second half of this overlong tale is devoted to their detective efforts, but the sudden end comes without wrap-up: The clowns are still at large, Sammy the Spatula's in hiding, and Arthur's no closer to his dream of breaking a record. Records mentioned in the text are listed in the final 22 pages. Even the legions of Guinness World Records fans are unlikely to return for the necessary sequel. For record-breaking tedium, this takes the cake. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Fantastic Family Whipple , #1
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
1060L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Most Extraordinarily Ordinary Boy on Earth

All the members of the Whipple family had managed to be born in the same month on the same day: March the first. All, of course, but one.

Arthur Whipple had been so eager to join his amazing family that he decided to make a surprise arrival into the world at eleven thirty-four p.m. on February the twenty-ninth, just twenty-six minutes ahead of schedule. But to Arthur’s astonishment, his family was not as delighted by the surprise as he had hoped. When the doctor placed Arthur in his mother’s arms, she smiled lovingly down at him—but he could sense a hint of sadness in her eyes. And when the nurse came and carried him out for his first bath, he turned back to catch a glimpse of his mother quietly crying as the door shut behind him.

Arthur’s father sent the marching band home early that night, after they had performed but one song. Charles Whipple was a good man, but he found it hard to conceal his disappointment in his new son’s poor sense of timing.

Seeing that something was troubling the baby’s father, the doctor sought to reassure him. “Congratulations, Mr. Whipple. You have a healthy baby boy. His heart rate is normal, and he is breathing very well. Furthermore, he has the proper number of fingers and toes, and—”

“Really?” Mr. Whipple interjected. “Well, that is good news! I was under the impression he only had ten of each, but . . .”

“Well yes,” replied the doctor. “Ten fingers and ten toes. That’s generally considered to be the proper number.”

“Oh. I see,” sighed Mr. Whipple. “No one must have told you.”

“You were expecting a different number of digits?”

“We were really hoping for at least fourteen of each. . . . Are you quite sure there were only ten?”

“Uh, yes. Quite sure.”

“And there is no way he might sprout a few extras in the near future?”

“Um. No,” replied the doctor, who was beginning to look noticeably uncomfortable with Mr. Whipple’s questions.

“Oh, well, there you have it,” said Mr. Whipple with more than a hint of despair. “This is just a disaster.”

The doctor made an expression that was somewhere between a smile and a grimace, then turned, whispered something to the nurse, and walked out of the room. One could hardly blame him for feeling uneasy. He was used to people being overjoyed when he gave them the news that their child was healthy and normal.

But, of course, the Whipple family was anything but normal, and Arthur’s being so had shocked his parents to their very cores. In truth, they would have been less surprised if Arthur had been born a duck-billed platypus. For the Whipples had long been regarded as extraordinary, due to one simple fact: the Whipple family had broken more world records than any family on earth.

After a few minutes, Arthur was brought back into the room and returned to his mother. Perhaps sensing he wasn’t measuring up to his family’s expectations, the baby looked as though he might be trying to think of something remarkable he could do to prove himself worthy of the Whipple name. Unfortunately, he had just been born, and apart from gurgling, there wasn’t a whole lot he was capable of. In the end, he apparently decided on attempting the world record for Longest Time without Blinking—but only made it forty-two seconds. Luckily, no one really noticed. He didn’t know it then, but this was the last time his shortcomings would go undetected. From that moment on, each of Arthur’s failures would be documented, analyzed, studied, and graphed.

Outside the hospital room, the crowd of well-wishers was buzzing with anticipation. In some parts of the crowd, there was a rumor circulating that the latest addition to the Whipple family had been born with polka-dotted skin and a full set of teeth. In other parts, it was whispered the baby had weighed 221/2 pounds and was covered with fur. Some people were even saying the infant had refused the doctor’s help and simply delivered itself.

A crack of the door sent a hush over the crowd.

Mr. Whipple stepped into the hallway. He stood smiling awkwardly for a moment and then addressed the onlookers.

“Thank you all so much for coming. I am happy to report that my wife has given birth to a son—and that he is healthy, happy and . . .” Mr. Whipple paused, grappling with the next word. “Normal.”

The crowd looked puzzled. Surely he was exaggerating. He couldn’t have meant normal normal. After all, this was a Whipple they were dealing with. Certainly the word “normal” had an entirely different meaning in that family.

One man spoke up. “So what records has the little one broken in his first hour? Birth weight? Shoe size? Arm length?”

“Actually,” replied Mr. Whipple, his smile straining a bit, “Arthur has not broken any records at this time. We are sure, however, that with the proper guidance, he will soon join his siblings in the pages of Grazelby’s Guide to World Records and Fantastic Feats.”

“But what about your streak of Coincidental Birth Dates? This marks the sixth member of your family born on the first of March. Surely, that is a world record?”

Mr. Whipple’s smile grew even more strained. “Unfortunately, Arthur was born several minutes before midnight, giving him an actual birth date of February the twenty-ninth. But we are perfectly satisfied with continuing to share our record of five coincidental birth dates with the Nakamoto family in Osaka.”

The crowd looked stunned. They had come to rely on the Whipple family’s unbeaten track record in the realm of world-record breaking. Nothing was certain anymore.

Stepping forward through the crowd, a grizzle-faced reporter peered out from under a dark-brimmed hat.

“Mr.Whipple,” said the man,“do you think this setback might be explained by—how shall we say—other-thannatural means?”

Mr. Whipple arched his brow, his smile vanishing altogether. “I’m afraid I don’t take your meaning, sir.”

“My apologies, Mr. Whipple. What I mean to say is: Mightn’t your son’s unremarkable quality be the result of a certain family curse? A curse that has gone so far as to claim the life of—”

“Who is this man?” cried Mr. Whipple. “Who let him in here? Wilhelm!”

A burly, handlebar-mustachioed man rushed forward, clapped the reporter about the shoulders, and proceeded to drag him down the hall as the crowd looked on with wide eyes.

When the two men had disappeared from view, Mr. Whipple straightened his shirt and cleared his throat.

“Terribly sorry about that,” he addressed the onlookers. “We can’t have just anyone attending the births of our children, you understand. But please, let me assure you—the so-called Lyon’s Curse has nothing whatsoever to do with my son’s momentary recordlessness. Any family tragedies resulting from such a curse are all in the distant past.” Mr. Whipple wiped his brow with his handkerchief. “And besides, this is hardly a tragedy: I have every confidence Arthur’s unfavorable status won’t last more than a matter of days—certainly no more than a month or two.”

The crowd said nothing.

Amidst some awkward shuffling of feet and a few nervous glances, Mr. Whipple thanked everyone again for coming.

It was not until Mr. Whipple’s valet and butler, Wilhelm, returned with a forklift—and presented the men with the World’s Largest Box of Cigars—that the memory of the strange interruption faded.

After distributing the seven-foot, three-hundred-pound cigars into giant cigar holders, Wilhelm—whose title of World’s Strongest German had made him uniquely suited to the task—promptly donned a flamethrower and proceeded to light them.

The men sat about smoking their colossal Cubans through large funnel-shaped tips while the women formed gossip clusters and flitted from one to the next. Just before dawn, when all had had their fill of gossip and smoke, the guests offered their closing compliments and bid the Whipple family farewell.

Mr. Whipple gazed out of the maternity ward window onto the procession of cars leaving the hospital, each with a giant half-smoked cigar strapped to its roof or secured to its tail, as the sun rose in the distance, drenching the whole scene in a warm amber glow. He looked back toward the hospital room where his wife lay holding their recordless newborn son, and thought about the past. He couldn’t help but wonder if his family’s incredible legacy had come to an end.

When the octuplets arrived—on schedule—the world could finally relax. The Whipples had returned.

Seven years after Arthur was born, Eliza Whipple was in labor again. The doctors had told her she was to have plain old quintuplets—but Abigail, Beatrice, and George had been hiding behind their siblings in order to surprise the family. It was true, of course, that Arthur had tried to surprise the family at his own birth—by arriving early— with unfavorable results. The octuplets, however, proved to be masters of surprise. They waited until the last minutes of March the first—and then made their move.

The world had expected a repeat of Arthur’s recordless birth, but when the quintuplets showed up just before midnight and brought three extra Whipples with them, everyone was astounded with joy.At the moment they were born, the Whipple octuplets broke two world records: Highest Number of Healthy Babies in a Single Birth, and Highest Number of Coincidental Birth Dates.

The Nakamoto family soon telephoned to concede defeat.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Echoes of Roald Dahl.... A genuinely fun and comically ludicrous romp, clearly worthy of Most World Records Outside of a World Records Book." —Publishers Weekly

"One of the most fun listening experiences of the year." —Publishers Weekly on the audio edition, starred review

"First-time author Matthew Ward's constant parade of sight gags, stage business, and preposterous feats is highly entertaining." —Common Sense Media

"A rollicking, record-breaking romp, running rife with riotous ribaldry! And featuring even more r's than this quote!"—Robert Paul Weston, award-winning author of Zorgamazoo and The Creature Department

Meet the Author

Though Matthew Ward (www.FantasticFamilyWhipple.com) was crowned back-to-back School Spelling Bee Champion in the third and fourth grades, his childhood passed with little international distinction. In 2006, he was named the World's First TiVo Ambassador. He lives in San Diego with his wife and son. The Fantastic Family Whipple series is his debut.

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The Fantastic Family Whipple 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Matthew Ward hit a homerun on his debut book. I highly recommend this story to anyone looking for a suspenseful yet humorous novrl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book and everyone should read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must-read for everyone! Best book ever! Definetely recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book! Everyone should read it.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
Not Quite Fantastic   The Whipple Family is extraordinary.  In a world obsessed with world records, this family is consistently the first and the best at too many records to count.  And this includes not only the parents but all of their kids, down to the very youngest – a two-year-old.   And then there’s Arthur.  Stuck in the middle, his attempts to break records constantly come up short.  However, when something strange happens at the family’s annual birthday extravaganza, Arthur might be the only one who is able to figure out what is happening.  Has he found his special talent at last?   Unfortunately, I didn’t think this book was as fantastic as the family is.  The plot was just too slow, and it felt like things were dragging on and on.  When the story did get going, I was definitely interested in seeing how things developed.  The fact that book leaves many things open at the end doesn’t help.  The characters were fine, and the humor was great.  I had to chuckle at some of the crazy records.   If the pace had been improved, I would have enjoyed the book more.  As it was, the book is just average.  Still, I must admit I am tempted to pick up the sequel and see how things conclude, but only if I can get it from the library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a kid anyone should love this book with all the cool record breaking children, giant food, and more stuff we don't see everyday, that's what I like about this book, all the funny parts, I finished this book in one sitting--the book was that good.  Anyone would love this fun record breaking awesome book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg ii really thought this was giong to be a fun and whacky adventure where arther finds his true talent wrong its about a mystery and it is insane behind the cheerful cover there is sabotage and danger. Although it has a whisical setting and tone it becomes a little dark for me i wouldn't recomend this to anyone below third or fouth grade. Don't be fooled by it't cute and charming mask it becomes a little rough around the edges.the anime loudicolo ;0
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would like but how many pages? Post replt to Tyler the ice dragon