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Measle Stubbs is the son of the Prime Magus, the leader of all the wizards in Britain. His mother is a manafount; which is to say, she contributes a non-stop flow of magical energy to strengthen her husband’s magic. Measle’s sister Tilly is a rare mallockee, who can perform multiple spells, one after another. His best friend is a wrathmonk: a tiny, weak, not-too-bright wrathmonk, to be sure, but still capable of performing magic. But, as we know from his four previous adventures, Measle has no magic of his own. The only magic trick he can do is turning invisible, but even that is possible only because of the special jellybeans Nanny Flannel makes.
So when Measle goes to school, it isn’t to a school of magic like Hogwarts, but to an ordinary school full of ordinary kids. And when his entire class disappears in the middle of a school trip, Measle has nothing to fall back on but his own wits, his pocketful of jellybeans, and his friendship with a girl named Polly, who somehow managed to get left behind.
Then who should turn up but Toby Jugg, the most powerful wrathmonk at large and Measle’s personal enemy? One by one, Toby drops Polly and Measle into a doompit, a kind of magical portal into the world of Dystopia. In Dystopia you might meet any creature you have heard, read, or dreamed about. And if they don’t kill you, you may learn that they aren’t quite how you imagined them.
Measle is soon reunited with his dog Tinker and his friend Iggy. Don’t ask how; I don’t want to spoil the laugh. Together, they face menacing werewolves, stinging fairies, giant ants, and other nasties. How they survive each of these encounters will surprise you again and again, though the biggest surprise – and possibly the biggest laugh – comes from Polly. But inevitably, things finally reach a point where Measle is all alone, caught between his worst enemy and certain death, with nothing to save him but what’s in his pockets. It wouldn’t be a Measle adventure if it were otherwise.
I have always enjoyed this series by actor, author, and playwright Ian Ogilvy. I know some children who are absolutely crazy for them. I hope this book, first published in 2007, isn’t the end of the series. Measle is developing nicely as a character. In fact, he’s already starting to notice girls – one girl in particular. It might be fun to see what that leads to. But I am especially interested in knowing what twisted and loopy idea Ogilvy dreams up next. Adults who enjoyed reading these books with their kids may also be interested in Ogilvy’s adult fiction, including Loose Chippings, The Polkerton Giant, and A Slight Hangover.