Synopsis from the Andersen Press website
Mr and Mrs Bold are just like you and me: they live in a nice house (in Teddington), they have jobs (like writing Christmas cracker jokes) and they love to have a bit of a giggle. One slight difference: they’re hyenas. Yes, that’s right – they’re covered in fur, have tails tucked into their trousers, and they really, really like to laugh.
So far, the Bolds have managed to keep things under wraps, even when their children Bobby and Betty were born. But the nosy man next door smells a rat (or a hyena), and a trip to the local wildlife park, and the brilliantly wacky heist that results, could be the end of Teddington’s best-kept secret. Whatever will the neighbours think?
Julian Clary has branched out into the wondrous world of children’s fiction! My 7 year old pronounced the book as “BRILLIANT!” as a reviewer for Lovereading4kids. But what will grown ups make of it?
Right from the off you can hear Julian Clary’s voice telling this story. Knowing his cheeky sense of humour, I was intrigued by how it would translate into a funny story for children.
But first thing’s first: The cover sets the tone for the characters and their story inside. David Roberts, artist extraordinaire, has really surpassed himself with his depiction of the hyena characters. The front cover shows crazy grins firmly plastered on The Bolds’ faces, and the title page shows them all roaring with laughter. Straight away we are enticed by these exotically dressed creatures, and their tendency to break into cackling laughter. At the start of the book we meet the hyenas, Spot and Sue, in their natural habitat, near a safari park in Africa.
One day a foolish English couple wander into the bush, and under the intense heat take a dip in a pond. Before you know it, the couple are snapped up by a hungry crocodile for his dinner, and Spot and Sue have grabbed the passports of the unfortunate victims, and decided to embark upon an adventure to live as humans in the UK. What a BOLD idea! So Spot and Sue transform themselves into Fred and Amelia Bold, and start a new life walking on two legs. They go to great trouble to hide their true identities…can they keep the truth a secret?
As an aspiring writer I’ll tell you a few things that I’ve noticed about this book. The first thing I observed was that this really has Julian’s voice stamped all over it. But that’s a good thing as it gave me a lot to chuckle about reading it aloud (goodness knows a frazzled parent needs a bit of a pick-me-up at bedtime!), and makes this book really unique and entertaining. There are lots of chatty, “telling” preambles, in a manner that I found similar to David Walliams books (and which have proved so popular). I can just hear Julian saying, ” …but I digress…” , but this lends the story a very personal touch, as if an adult were telling a story from memory. It gives the story a very cosy and informal feel.
The dialogue is fun and irreverent, and Julian pokes lots of fun at the ridiculousness of modern life as The Bolds adjust to Teddington society. There’s toilet humour aplenty, and generous dollops of one liners. Yet throughout this silliness we develop a fondness and sympathy for these furry imposters. We are most indignant at the way their frosty neighbour Mr McNumpty treats them. And you just know that the trip to the local safari park will be memorably eventful!
There’s an exciting, action-packed climax, and a very satisfying twist at the end, so all in all this is a very neatly constructed story.
This is an upbeat, heartwarming book that is bound to be popular with children and adults alike. Furthermore, the book is an absolute must if you are a David Roberts fan with its very generous proportion of illustrations to delight young readers. I’m actually hoping they will produce a picture book spin off about Miranda the marmoset who is the cutest creature I have ever seen!
Well worth a read!
Pippa Wilson @hellopipski