There is an inherent wonder and sometimes infectious joy in picking up a children’s book if only for a minute. The magical wonders promised by the busy colourful images on the cover may only last a few moments, but the memories they bring back are often real, long lasting and always joyful. The suspension of disbelief is total and time stands completely still.
Patricia Forde’s new book just published by Little Island Bumpfizzle the Best on Planet Earth has that sense of wonder about it. It does not say what Bumpfizzle is the best of but that doesn’t matter. There is an urgency here that prompts the reader to open the cover and get on with it.
The reader does and reads: “This is the very, very, very important diary of the very, very, very important warrior Bumpfizzle the Best./ NOTE If you are not a Plonker - KEEP OUT! If you are a Plonker - KEEP OUT! If you are WHIZZPIFFLE or ANY of her gang - KEEP RIGHT OUT!
Before we lost the run of ourselves, let’s have a look at the blurb for some sense of direction. Here we are told that “Bumpfizzle is on a mysterious mission to Earth from Planet Plonk. His Earth family is OK. Except for the four-legged brother (Mr Sooty ) and the Baby - which leaks from both ends. And when he bites his teacher (to check if humans are edible ), not to mention trying to sacrifice a goat, things start to go wrong for -er -Bumpfizzle”.
On earth Bumpfizzle becomes Daniel, a ten-year-old boy in a family of two parents, one other brother, one baby and a cat. He has been sent to earth by the Great Master on Planet Plonk to find out if humans are edible as the food supplies on the planet are becoming scarce.
The narration moves at lightning speed, greatly helped by Elina Braslina’s delightful and impish illustrations, as Bumpfizzle grumbles from disaster to disaster and comes under increasing pressure from the Great Master. While constantly having to protest that he is doing everything he can and that he is on the verge of a glorious victory, he finds himself gradually adapting to the human way of life, albeit with some aberration as he bites the teacher’s arm to see how edible she is.
The real triumph, and there are many, is that the narration does not let up at all. Forde is enjoying herself immensely and her enjoyment and energy is infectious. Bumpfizzle, sorry Daniel, becomes a lovable character and, despite the fact that his claims as being the Great Champion Warrior are rather exaggerated, he endears himself to the reader's heart as every 10-year-old freckled boy does.
Bumpfizzle The Best On Planet Earth is a great joy to read, a wonderful achievement and a much needed refreshing read in a world full of trumpery.