It would be dreadful to run out of this deadpan goodness any time soon. We dole it out slowly. Avoiding a binge doesn’t take much willpower, because they’re practically impossible to find. Even Amazon doesn’t have many in stock: Andy Stanton’s series of books about the daft, cruel Mr. Gum, who hates “children, animals, fun, and corn on the cob.” (On the other hand, it’s not all hate–Mr. Gum loves the BBC television show “Bag of Sticks,” which features a 30-minute shot of sticks. In a bag.) The books also feature a fairy (she’s rough), a dog named Jake (he’s kind and oblivious), and rhymes, which make us choke and cry (in a good way).
To date, there are nine books in the series. The Ocean State Library System carries the first and fifth books (thank you, book-selecting geniuses of Westerly and North Smithfield) and the first book on CD (at the Jesse M. Smith library in Harrisville). Read by the author, this audiobook is a fantastic introduction to the series, perfect for a road trip.
We have collected books #1, 2, 3 and…#6. They are uniformly silly, laugh-out-loud funny, and kind of appalling while still being good-natured. “Low fat yogurt!” is used as an expletive. Winners of many fine English awards, including the Roald Dahl FUNNY PRIZE, these are books any elementary school-age child’s family can fall right into. That is, they’re easy to read, but have a fizzy, sophisticated sense of humor that parents will happily read out loud to children way past their bedtimes. Unless they’ve been doing situps, everyone will wake up with sore abs. Numerous vignette illustrations, burbling with the same energy as the books’ language, will buoy an independent reader who’s new to chapter books.
Mr. Gum has been around since 2006, and it seems impossible that he hasn’t taken over the Scholastic Book catalog and the literary lives of American children yet. We need Mr. Gum.
You’re a Bad Man, Mr. GumÂ (and eight more in the series)
by Andy Stanton. Illustrated by David Tazzyman
$8-$10US per volume