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THE QUIGLEYS by Simon Mason


by Simon Mason & illustrated by Helen Stephens

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: May 14th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-75006-4
Publisher: David Fickling/Random

As droll as a Britcom and as true to the spirit of family life as the all-American Quimbys, this import introduces the Quigleys: siblings Lucy and Will and their slightly feckless but loving parents. Each of four episodic chapters focuses on one family member. In one, Dad accepts a babysitting assignment from neighbors even though it conflicts with his desire to watch a thrilling football game on television, and as a consequence he loses one of his charges. In another, Lucy insists that she will wear a bee costume instead of a bridesmaid’s dress in a wedding. “All the Quigleys could be a little stubborn,” but her parents have no idea just how stubborn Lucy can be. In the third, Mum’s birthday is ruined when Dad’s train is delayed and she must miss the ballet. The children manage to salvage the occasion by making her a party involving a ballet of their own creation, toast with chocolate spread, a variety of alcoholic beverages found in the back of the cupboard, and finally a madcap entrance by Dad with roses between his teeth. This chapter, while it may not find its way into school reading anthologies, is laugh-out-loud funny. The concluding chapter describes Will’s campaign to receive a Harpy Eagle for Christmas despite the family’s “no pets” rule. This includes the dropping of pointed hints, “ . . . a way to get what you want without bother,” which proves to be very hard work. The deadpan humor is applied to small but universal dramas of everyday family life, which are reinforced by a pattern of sly repetitions that develop the characters and situations to comic effect. Read either aloud or independently, this is a family story to be shared, the characters not soon forgotten. Plentiful line drawings extend the fun. (Fiction. 7-10)