All Aboard! The Grunts All At Sea by Philip Ardagh
If you didn’t care much for the human excrement plot lines in I am STILL not a Loser, you might not enjoy the elephant dung that occasionally pops up (plops out?) of the latest Grunts adventure, The Grunts All at Sea. This is author Philip Ardagh’s fourth instalment of the series, building on the success of The Grunts in Trouble. Once again, he makes full use of all creatures grunt and small, as well as that elephant poo. Unlike the human kind in the world of Barry Loser, this dung is used as fertiliser, and it gives life to a bizarre and intriguing tale.
Fans of the Grunts will enjoy this fourth title, while newcomers can easily pick it up. I’d also recommend it to Michael Gove, if only because he’s sure to appreciate Mr Grunt’s challenge to Mrs Grunt that she only use insults that she can spell. Fortunately, Mr Grunt does not hold her to this rule. If he did, we’d be deprived of such spousal exchanges as:
“You pushed me, mister!” she shouted in mid-air.
“Didn’t touch you!” shouted Mr Grunt.
“Did!” Mrs Grunt insisted.
“Wish I had!” shouted Mr Grunt.
“And you did!” shouted Mrs Grunt.
Like all married couples that argue frequently and ferociously, Mr and Mrs Grunt are devoted to each other and hopelessly in love. Accompanying them on this most recent oddball odyssey are Sunny and Mimi. The former wears a blue dress and the latter dresses entirely in pink. If this seems daft, be warned: Mimi is a perceptive little girl, and her suspicious mind will come in handy as the Grunts try to deliver the precious cargo that has been entrusted to them.
Yes, incredible as it sounds, somebody charges the hapless and revolting Grunts to deliver the POGI, Person of Great Importance, to a distant island. Over land and sea, the family, their donkeys, their elephant and a mysterious and, in some cases, dangerous motley crew brave storms, sabotage and highly suspect sandwiches to earn the treasure that’s been promised.
Sadly, I didn’t find this POGI adventure to be the barrel of laughs I’d hoped for. It betters I am STILL not a Loser thanks to its clever plot, but the sheer abundance of absurdities sometimes shackles the speed. There is plenty of wit and a touch of magic, but it could have done with one fewer roadkill specials.