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A HOUSE CALLED AWFUL END by Philip Ardagh

A HOUSE CALLED AWFUL END

Vol. I, the Eddie Dickens Trilogy

By Philip Ardagh

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8050-6828-7
Publisher: Henry Holt

Better known on this side of the Atlantic for series nonfiction, Ardagh kicks off what promises to be yet another Dickensian farce with this tale of an 11-year-old buffeted by winds of silliness. When Eddie’s bedridden parents “turn yellow, go a bit crinkly about the edges, and smell of hot-water bottles,” Mad Uncle Jack and Mad Aunt Maud arrive to sweep him off to their mansion, Awful End. Eddie does arrive safely by the end, but only after several quirky adventures, notably a brief stay in St. Horrid’s Home for Grateful Orphans, run the aptly named Mr. & Mrs. Cruel-Streak. In overt homage to Edward Gorey and Victoria Chess, Roberts gives the figures in his small, spiky drawings exaggerated proportions and big, staring eyes for a comically gothic look. Neither author nor illustrator strays far from conventions long mapped out by Monty Python and legions of literary imitators; recommend this to fans as a placeholder while they wait for new work from the more creative likes of Sid Fleischman, Eva Ibbotson, Joan Aiken, Lemony Snicket, etc. (Fiction. 10-12)