Voracious young bookworms need a steady diet of fabulous fiction, and their obliging parents are often relieved to discover a book series that stretches into infinity. How marvellous it is to report then, that There’s a Beast in the Basement by Pamela Butchart is the thirteenth in a series of uproarious school adventures spent in the company of Izzy and her intrepid pals. Previous exploits have seen their school seemingly plagued by aliens, werewolves and demon dinner ladies. This time round, there’s a beast lurking in the boiler room, and it has a murderous glint in its eyes.
Izzy, Zach, Maisie and Jodi, are used to their ordinary school days delivering extraordinary events. When headteacher, Mr Graves, is spotted crawling like a baby along the corridors and weeping silently while announcing the new school dinner menu in assembly, it seems likely that something remarkable is brewing (unless his tears are a critique of the execrable shepherd’s pie)
Izzy and co set to work unearthing the reason for Mr Graves’ turmoil and it’s not long before two major clues present themselves. Clue one: Mr Graves seems inordinately interested in lurking around the school basement. Clue two: he is overheard discussing ‘treasure’ with the dinner ladies.
To the amateur sleuths, the clues seem to suggest a hidden stash of treasure in the bowels of the building. Knowing that the school finances are under pressure ( the school bus is decrepit, all day trips have been cancelled and they’ve even stopped supplying ketchup sachets in the dining hall), such a find would solve the school’s cashflow issues in an instant, and yet, it doesn’t quite add up. Mr Graves’ behaviour is more suggestive of nervous breakdown than thrilled treasure seeking.
As suspicion and red herrings abound, events suddenly take a sinister and beastly turn.
Ideal for 7+ and competent younger readers, this laugh-out-loud book is a joyful celebration of riotous imagination.
There’s a Beast in the Basement by Pamela Butchart is published by Nosy Crow, 272 pages.