The Hiccups at No 13 (by Gyles Brandreth)

Browsing books that I thought my bibliophile three-year-old grandson might enjoy, I spotted this in our local thrift store. I know the name Gyles Brandreth from humorous TV and radio shows in the past, and the front cover looked like the kind of thing my grandson would like. There are line drawings on most pages, and it’s just under 100 pages long.

‘The hiccups at no 13’ is the story about a nine-year-old boy called Hamlet Brown. His parents are actors, and his older sister Susan is rather a goody-goody. Hamlet is prone to accidents, and to rebelling (in a mild way) against expectations. The first paragraph introduces us to Hamlet, in the midst of a bad bout of hiccups. His mother finds them annoying, and chaos ensues as she hands him a cooked breakfast just as he’s about to hiccup…

The rest of the book charts attempts at a hiccup cure, a visit to a church service where Susan is reading a lesson, and a professional play involving their father, where Susan has a small part. Oh, and there’s the temporary abduction of an aardvark. Nothing is straightforward in this family.

The writing is good, fast-paced and amusing. It’s written as a ‘young puffin’, intended for children (probably aged about seven to nine) who are reading for themselves but have not yet reached the level of full-length books. It’s even mildly educational, as far as aardvarks are concerned. It’s not condescending in any way, nor does the language seem to be ‘easy-read’, and in my view it’s suitable for any age. I enjoyed reading it aloud, and my grandson liked listening to it.

The book is divided into fairly short chapters, providing good stopping points if necessary. My grandson likes a book to be read aloud in its entirety, and I only paused once while reading this.

Definitely recommended for children, whatever age, who want ‘real’ books that aren’t too long, or as a quick read for fluent readers who want something light. Excellent, too, as I discovered, as a read-aloud.

Long out of print, but it's the kind of book I've seen regularly in charity shops.

Review copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

No comments: