A Villain's Night Out
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This issue’s cover is from J K Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book in what is already a classic new series. The first two titles were Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for their help. Cover image based on original artwork by Cliff Wright
Some recent Mahy titles such as The Horribly Haunted School and Tingleberries, Tuckertubs and Telephones have been bizarre with plots taking off at tangents, and adult puns that would totally confuse their audience. A Villain’s Night Out however is an off-beat masterpiece.
Formby Mackinaw’s class is given the job of writing books for the school library after the budget for library books is blown on a coffee machine for the staffroom. Not noted for his great application in schoolwork, Formby is surprised when a villainous needle-toothed character, ‘Squidgy Moot’, leaps uninvited into his mind. In order to get back on with the rest of his life, Formby must write a story about Squidgy Moot. Unfortunately, Formby has only limited control over what happens in the story. Squidgy influences events but when Formby’s little sister, Minnie, starts scribbling the next chapter secretly, the story starts to get out of hand. This rollercoaster of a story accelerates to a breathless pace as the ‘real’ characters and the story characters struggle to steer the book to a conclusion to suit their particular interests. Three different fonts are used in order for the reader to keep tabs on who is writing. Towards the dramatic climax Formby, Minnie, the evil Count Aspio, Professor Elsivera Mockery, her brother Professor Waldo Mockery, Squidgy Moot and his sister Nina all engage in a battle of wits to save the story and the world from disaster. Superb entertainment.