Enticing young people to leave the brightly lit Glitter and join him in the decrepit part of town known as The Gloom, a parent-hating, teenage bully sets himself up as King Streetwise in this plodding British farce from Ridley (Krindlekrax, 1992, etc.). Kasper Whiskey, having spent all of his ten years with his indolent mother, Pumpkin, in her beauty parlor surrounded by leveled buildings, has never met anyone his age until the day he catches Heartthrob Mink, one of King Streetwise's troops, stealing roses. When Pumpkin's prized brooch disappears, Kasper sets out in pursuit. Streetwise is looking for Heartthrob, too, for helping his intended queen, Hushabye Brightwing, escape; Kasper joins the hunt but is so offended by the king's tactics that he switches sides and brings the two fugitives to the beauty parlor. Ultimately, Pumpkin turns over a new leaf, Heartthrob deals the king a black eye, the brooch turns up, and Hushabye declares her love for Kasper. Cautionary messages about bad friends and the dangers of running away are woven into a story that, for all its quirky elements and exaggerated characters, never hits the funny bone; few readers will notice that the king sounds like Elvis, nor will they attach much hilarity to repeated glimpses of Kasper's skill at whipping up a kind of banana cream pie. Riddell's black-and-white drawings have an expressive, graphic-novel-style sophistication, but can't leaven this leaden effort.