My pupils and I have been waiting for Chris Riddell’s sequel to Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, and here it is, cleverly launched in time for Hallowe’en. At my local Waterstone’s, copies of the chocolate-box, gilded hardback are displayed with cobwebs and spiders and fairy cakes (the latter not traditionally associated with Hallowe’en, true, but all will become clear).
In this charming sequel, Ada and the Attic Club are back, though Ada can’t seem to spend time with her friends, or her governess, or anyone else for that matter; they’re all far too busy preparing for the ‘Fete worse than Death’. Ghastly-Gorm Hall is back and a more bizarre and intriguing setting than ever.
Ada stood for a moment and looked out across the forest of ornamental chimneys, the silvery moonlight playing on stone-carved gargoyles, barley-sugar chimney pots and herring-pattern brickwork. The she turned and made her way across the rooftops and into the attics…
New characters include brilliant caricatures of famous artists, and there’s a hilarious send-up of the Great British Bake Off, called the ‘Great Ghastly-Gorm Bake Off’ of course, and the nation’s celebrity chefs.
‘I’m Nigellina Sugarspoon, high-society baker, and this is Gordon Ramsgate.’ She gave a little tinkling laugh, ‘I imagine we’re all here for the same thing? I can’t wait for Lord Goth to try my fondant fancies.’
I went to hear Chris Riddell talk about his books last year, and while he modestly claimed he really only writes so he can draw his elaborate illustrations, he’s a pretty good writer too. Chock full of silly puns and ridiculous names, the writing is dense and detailed, and as an adult I found many things very funny that I suspect would go over a child’s head. Definitely an entertaining book to read with your children, but with stunning pictures on almost every page, they’ll love reading it alone too.
7 to 11 yrs
Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death by Chris Riddell published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 218 pages