People of all ages love to laugh, and this compilation of 16 short stories is sure to entertain young readers with its variety of unusual and fantastic characters. One of the more surprising stories is about a librarian who is kidnapped for ransom by a group of robbers. She warns them that they may catch the dreaded "Raging Measles" disease from her, but they don't heed the warning. The robbers soon come down with the disease and are cared for and read to by the librarian (who secretly plans to convert the men to productive citizens). The robbers learn a lot from the excellent selection of literature, befriend the librarian, and become librarians themselves! Children will enjoy the variety of stories and characters, and will be exposed to humor from many countries around the world.
Many of the sixteen stories will bring a laugh, chuckle or at least a smile. Even with the clearly British tone, the humor shines through. "Crummy Mummy" by Anne Fine, is an amusing story of generational rebellion. The mother is a punker with dyed spiky hair who dates a fellow named Crusher Maggot. It is her daughter and grandmother who share similar attitudes and outlooks as each generation rebels against the previous one. "The Librarian and the Robbers" by Margaret Mahy spoofs the profession, but also demonstrates the reforming power of literacy. "But You Promised You Wouldn't Tell" by Bel Mooney brings a laugh when the kids escape eating a healthy salad for lunch and instead enjoy fish and chips only to learn that is also Mom's surprise dinner menu. "And a Partridge in a Pear Tree" by Andrew Matthews spoofs the song with the tale of a lovesick prince who tames a troll and wins the hand of Princess Debbie. "UFD" by Paul Jennings has a truly quirky ending that is guaranteed to get a rise out of kids. If the Briticisms and Australian wordings cause a few pauses—it all becomes clear in the text. Black-and-white illustrations are sprinkled throughout the book. 2002, Kingfisher,
— Marilyn Courtot