Summary and book reviews of A House Called Awful End by Philip Ardagh

A House Called Awful End

Eddie Dickens Trilogy, #1

By Philip Ardagh

A House Called Awful End
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2002,
    128 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2003,
    144 pages.

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Book Summary

Eddie Dickens is sent off to stay with his aunt and uncle and a riotously funny comedy of errors ensues.

When both Eddie Dickens's parents catch a disease that makes them turn yellow, go a bit crinkly around the edges, and smell of hot water bottles, it's agreed he should go and stay with relatives at their house, Awful End. Unfortunately for Eddie, those relatives are Mad Uncle Jack and Even-Madder Aunt Maud. . . .

This hilarious historical spoof, the first in the Eddie Dickens trilogy, has been called "a scrumptious cross between Dickens and Monty Python."



A Message to My American Readers
At no extra cost


Greetings from across the Atlantic! I'm so delighted that A House Called Awful End has been published in the United States that I want to say a few special words to my American readers. (Yes: YOU.)

The story you're about to read was originally written in installments for my nephew Ben, who was at boarding school in England while his parents were living in Russia. Instead of sending him letters about how many cups of tea I'd drunk or how hard it had rained (there's plenty of tea drinking and rain in England), I decided to send him a silly adventure story in installments, with a new episode every two weeks. The book you now have in your hand (or clenched between your teeth, if you're very nearsighted or hungry) is the result. Of course, when I was writing those letters, I had no idea that they'd end up becoming this book, but they did! May your lives be full of such good fortune, too.

--Philip Ardagh, 2002

EPISODE I
Crinkly Around the Edges
In which Eddie Dickens is sent away for his own good

When Eddie Dickens was eleven years old, both his parents caught some awful disease that made them turn yellow, go a bit crinkly around the edges, and smell of old hot-water bottles.

There were lots of diseases like that in those days. Perhaps it had something to do with all that thick fog, those knobbly cobbled streets, and the fact that everyone went everywhere by horse . . . even to the bathroom. Who knows?

"It's very contagious," said his father.

"And catching," said his mother, sucking on an ice cube shaped like a famous general.

They were in Eddie's parents' bedroom, which was very dark and dingy and had no furniture in it except for a large double bed, an even larger wardrobe, and thirty-two different types of chair designed to make you sit up straight even if your wrists were handcuffed to your ankles.

"Why are you sucking ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr

It should readily be noticed that plot is not a major concern here. Although there is a bit of it (how Eddie ends up in St. Horrid's Home for Grateful Orphans, for example), characterization and snide authorly comments à la Lemony Snicket are emphasized. Those enamored of A Series of Unfortunate Events will probably be thrilled by this addition to the genre. Shades of Roald Dahl don't hurt, and neither do Roberts' illustrations inspired by Quentin Blake.

Chicago Tribune

Monty Python does Dickens for middle school.

New Mexico Kids!

This highly original book…will appeal to sophisticated readers who enjoy upside-down logic, wacky characters, and a curious, slightly mad sense of humor.

The Boston Herald

…a laugh a minute. Children won't be able to put this book down…Outlandishly funny!

The Philadelphia Inquirer

It may remind you of Lemony Snicket's popular series. Actually it's better.

School Library Journal - Farida S Dowler

Gr 4-5. While the setting attempts to evoke the 19th-century England of Charles Dickens, as well as the gallows humor of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket, the meandering, nonsensical sentences and relentless asides to readers are tedious and overbearing.

Booklist - Ilene Cooper

Gr. 4-7. This frenetic story, told in an arch tone, alternates between winsome and wearying, but fans of the Snicket style will probably enjoy the way the story speeds from one fantastical crisis to the next. The Edward Gorey-like pen-and-ink illustrations add a macabre note to the hilarity. This is very short, but it is part one of a trilogy.

VOYA

This book is a celebration of language and absurdity, and its distinctly British voice adds to its charm…Fans of Monty Python, Spike Jones, and Fireside Theater will appreciate the zany humor, and rich wordplay that Ardagh brings to every page…

Publishers Weekly.

Starred Review. Roberts's hilarious pen-and-ink drawings of wide-eyed Eddie and his insane family resemble a cross between Charles Addams and Edward Gorey. Adult fans of Bleak House and Oliver Twist will appreciate Ardagh's clever crafting, and kids who lap up Lemony Snicket's series will take quickly to this tale and clamor for the next. Ages 9-up.

Reader Reviews
sara

A house Called AWFUL END
I thought this book was exciting and so funny to read. i enjoyed this book so much. i reccomand this book to all ages it's wonderful. age: 10

Tibby

sweet
i loved it. at first i thought it would be a knock off of series of unfortunate events, but boy was i wrong. this book was awesome, and i enjoyed it, even at the age of 16. it was darkly humorous, but not dark in a mature way. definately one of the ...   Read More

Jonathan

This Was The Best Book Ever

Delaney

This book was outlandishly funny, I look forward to finishing the series, despit my age, 13. I am currently doing a report on said novel. Bravo Mr Phillip Ardagh!

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