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Pet’s Revenge By Charles Ogden, Simon and Schuster, pp. 175, £6.99, Special Indian price £5.99   The Big Blueberry Barf-off The Great Smelling Bee By R.L. Stine, HarperCollins, pp. 110, $6.99, Special Indian price $5.25   Goodbye Tommy Blue By Adele Geras, Macmillan, U.K., pp. 80, £3.99, Special Indian price £2.25   A Warlock in Whitby By Robin Jarvis, Hodder, UK, £6.99, Special Indian price £3.30   The Tears of Isis By Allan Frewin Jones, Hodder, pp. 202, £4.99, Indian price £2.85   Lemony Snickett spawned his own set of imitators—some of whom, like Philip Ardagh, are genuinely fun to read, and some of whom, like Charles Ogden, seem to be labouring to discover the darkly funny and fantastical. This is the fourth in the series of Edgar and Ellen books. The terrible siblings live in The Tower Mansion on Nameless Lane, in Nod’s Limb, a small town presided over by the ambitious Mayor Knightleigh and his home-improvement-tome-writing wife Judith Stainsworth-Knightleigh whose mission is to bring order and decency to the town. Ellen and Edgar share their mansion with Pet, a hairball with one eye whom they enjoy beating up and the strangely sinister caretaker Heimertz. In the cellar is an ancient laboratory, which contains a mysterious balm created by an unknown ancestor who may or may not be the founder of the town of Nod’s Limb.   However, the book Pet’s Revenge itself does not live up to the promise of the setting. The twins are brilliantly bad says the quote on the back cover—but the plot moves sluggishly. Having created two very promising characters, given them a dark, brooding home and a fabulously weird pet, the author then feels no particular obligation to weave a story with them. The illustrations by Rick Carton are amusing, in a modern Gothic style, but the story fails to deliver.   R.L. Stine’s Rotten School series again proves his masterly grasp of knowing exactly what will capture the attention and interest of the young reader. The books are beautifully designed, wonderfully illustrated by Trip Park, and finely produced, making them a pleasure to be handled and read even by those who do not share the preoccupation with gross things and bodily functions like Stine’s target audience.   School stories, if effectively told, always work for those whose lives revolve around that institution. And Rotten School, being more obviously and dramatically an inadequate forum of learning, is a satisfactory setting. Bernie Bridges lives in ...

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