MISERY GUTS by Morris Gleitzman


Age Range: 9 - 12
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 Keith, who barely remembers when he last saw his parents smile, is determined to cheer them up, but his exaggerated efforts are as inappropriate as they are well intentioned: Mum and Dad are devastated to find their fish-and-chips shop painted with Tropical Mango Hi-Gloss (intended as a maximum contrast to London's fog), and automatically reject his proposals for a South Sea vacation--or a move to Australia's tropical coast. Their real troubles, they confide, are economic: competition is growing. Still they agree to a day (cold and windy, it turns out) at a nearby beach. While they're away, the shop burns, precipitating a move to Australia after all; and despite Keith's new friend's dire warnings about crocodiles, poisonous jellyfish, etc., they find warm weather, friendly neighbors, and a welcome upturn in their fortunes. The more serious realities in this engagingly lighthearted comedy play a larger role in a simultaneously published sequel (Worry Warts: 0-15-299666-4), which begins as a rerun of book one: Keith is painting his parents' jalopy a giddy patchwork in hopes of lifting their renewed depression; troubles have followed with a new resort that's stealing customers. Divorce is now threatened; and though Keith's escapades still entertain (he gets trapped in an opal mine; paints another building), the question of who is comforting whom, and by what loving, if misguided, subterfuges, is a thoughtful undercurrent that surfaces in a surprising but appropriate conclusion. Each book stands alone, but they're stronger and more interesting as an easily read, genuinely funny two-part novel, lively with offbeat incidents and repartee. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-15-254768-1
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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