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*****= An all-time favorite
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***The Quigleys at Large

by Simon Mason

illustrated by Helen Stephens

Reviewed April 5, 2004.
David Fickling Books (Random House), New York, 2003.  149 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF BEN).

The Quigleys at Large is a beginning chapter book about a normal British family.  It doesn’t sound like absorbing reading for a grown woman, but I found myself chuckling over this book and thoroughly enjoying it.  I’m confident that kids will enjoy it, too.

The four chapters each highlight a different member of the Quigley family.  I love the family morning chaos presented in the first chapter, which highlights Dad.  The author is hilarious by simply presenting the situation.  Here’s a fun passage:

“There was a sudden high-pitched scream in Dad’s left ear, and he rose a couple of inches off his chair, scattering the pages of the paper onto the floor as he fell.

“‘Do you like my new laugh?’ Will said.  ‘It’s my fake laugh.  Do you want to hear it again?’”

That’s only the beginning, as Dad loses the family budgie and goes to great lengths to get it back.

The whole book has simple family interactions, but it rings completely true and will make you laugh as you recognize your own family.  Will daydreams and forgets the errand he set out to do.  The whole family gets shy around people who speak other languages.

This is a British book and it hasn’t been translated for Americans.  I like that, because it’s more authentic, and we can quickly figure out that feeling “a bit grey” means not feeling well, for example.  American kids will quickly learn that families are the same everywhere.

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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