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The Quigleys in a Spin    by Simon Mason order for
Quigleys in a Spin
by Simon Mason
Order:  USA  Can
David Fickling Books, 2006 (2006)
*   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Helen Stephens' illustrations - in simple line, pencil-sketch form - capture the essence of Simon Mason's incidental adventures of the quirky Quigley family. Each family member is featured in this five-stories-in-one book, with an added bonus about the neighbor's cat, Fatbrain. The Quigleys In A Spin is the fourth in the Quigley series.

The lead tale, Dad's Big Toe, takes shape as Dad falls asleep reading a bedtime story. Lucy removes Dad's shoes and socks, then proceeds to paint his toenails a sparkly purple. Will applies dragon tattoos to Dad's ankles. A few days later, Dad falls down the stairs, injuring his big toe, which requires a cast at the hospital. Lucy's Big Day is her upcoming birthday, and she worries that her party will not turn out perfect, and justifiably so. Will is determined to be nice to Robinson Potts on a weekend vacation. Robinson is incommunicative and sassy. He continuously plays with his GameBoy, is fussy about food, and sleeps with the lights on. This is the least of what is faced in Will's Big Effort, which has traumatic, discouraging, and maddening moments.

Mum is excited about the family's trip to the funfair, and all the rides that give you a 'tummy feeling', like the Shunters, Plungers, Whirlpools, and Churner. Will is excited about throwing darts, shooting at the rifle arcade, and he especially wants to win an eight-foot stuffed squirrel. Mother and daughter take a spin on the Waltzer to satisfy Mum's Big Ride craving, but uh, oh, she doesn't feel too well. Finally, while the neighbors are out of town, the Quigleys agree to tend their cat. No one could foresee the havoc that Fatbrain's Big Adventure causes, after no amount of coaxing will get Fatbrain to come down from the roof.

Simon Mason presents adventures that go askew, along with human foibles. Though beginner readers will giggle at the Quigley antics, some British terms - such as chessboard sandwiches, cheese straws, a game of Pass the Parcel, and rock-pooling - might be unfamiliar to North American youngsters, and the author's dry, off-the-wall humor not to everyone's taste.

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