Between an internal-dialogue prologue and an early in-story, readers will quickly realize that the plot of Fergal will probably prove secondary to Ardagh's free-wheeling self-referential style. But how can you argue when you're having this much fun? Even as the book begins with its ending, Ardagh's strategy works as brilliantly as ever--and even includes a semi-sensible plot: young Le Fay McNally has reached the Tap 'n' Type Young Typist of the Year Grand Finals, and she hopes to smuggle her older sister, twin brothers, and one younger brother into the luxurious Dell hotel to watch her compete. The poor, put-upon, ill-fed McNally kids reel at the poshness of the Dell, and comedy ensues as Le Fay first sneaks her siblings into the hotel, then begins meeting her competitors (including the hilariously illustrated and described Graham Large: "the hair--my God, the hair--that was most shocking of all. Thick, dark brown, and swept back into an enormous quiff, it was so stiff that it looked more like spun sugar....She'd never met such a sweet-smelling, softy-skinned, quiffy person in shorts before").
Between his knowing asides, Ardagh squeezes in a few other hilarious characters--including chief hotel detective Capt. Twinkle-Toes Tweedy (Retd.) and voluminously mustachioed ventriloquist and beat poet Hieronymus Peach--before the white-knuckle Tap 'n' Type finals and the book's climactic ending (which, if you'll remember, came at the book's beginning). Fans and soon-to-be fans of Ardagh will be glad to hear him confide that there's much, much more in store for the McNallys: "There are three books in this series, and something has to happen in the other two!" (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes
From School Library Journal
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