Barry Hutchison has form when it comes to comedy writing for children (The Shark-Headed Bear Thing and many more), and his new character Beaky Malone is another winner. If this was a film, the tagline would be: ‘What happens when the world’s biggest liar enters a truth machine?’
The set-up introduces us to Beaky’s dysfunctional family as seen through the eyes of the beak-nosed boy himself. His household is bad enough, but even worse is the visit of loud Aunt Jas with her ‘too-cool’ partner, silently glowering daughter and unspeakable son. There are many occasions for casual lying here, but Beaky takes tall tales to another level as he boasts, for example, of being invited on an Arctic expedition. His older sister Jodie finally has enough of him, and she brings Beaky to a so-called truth machine at a dilapidated fun fair. Of course, when Beaky goes inside, neither of them believe the machine will really work. The consequences are hilarious – could it be that someone who has to speak the truth is even more annoying than an inveterate liar? Yes, it could – fart gags and other bodily function references become compulsory from now on.
Katie Abey’s energetic black pen drawings add just the right level of absurdity to the story, with her cartoon-strips, doodles and caricatures giving us plenty of laughs. The book is bound to please fans of Jeff Kinney and David Walliams, and even reluctant readers will be looking out for the next book in the series.