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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder: The Great Gold Robbery
by Jo Nesbo
Age Range: 9-11
A great calamity has befallen Norway; its gold reserve, now reduced to one bar, has been stolen and the international inspection of the bank is only three days away. Norway’s gold reserve had steadily been depleted over the years because of the high consumption of sweets by the population. This had resulted in dentists running out of gold, so consequently the rest of Norway’s reserve had been used for filling teeth.
In order to avoid national panic it’s up to Doctor Proctor, Nilly and Lisa to find the missing gold. This involves taking a trip to London and encounters with the most awful gangsters in all of Great and Small Britain, the three Crunch brothers – Alfie, Betty and Charlie together with their very scary mother and Maximus Rublor, a billionaire, who already owns Finland and New Zealand, and is the richest man in Britain, owner of the Chelchester City football club, Houses of Parliament and who is hoping to buy Buckingham Palace and Ibranaldovez, the world’s most expensive football player.
Rublor had arranged for Norway’s gold to be stolen and it’s been melted down to create the Premier Soccer League trophy which he is sure his team will win against Rotten Ham, a football club with the cheapest and worst players. Somehow Nilly, Lisa and Doctor Proctor must find a way to retrieve the trophy and get it back to Norway in time before the deadline of the inspection.
Norwegian writer, Jo Nesbø is an international bestseller and is probably best known for his adult thrillers but his Doctor Proctor books, (four titles in all) have enjoyed enormous success too. They combine wacky stories reminiscent of Roald Dahl with the mad-cap humour of Monty Python. Of course, there is the obvious hilarity in relation to the inventive fartonaut powder which always makes an appearance, but there is so much more to this book including parody and satire.
There are some lovely comic touches: The king of Norway’s desk comes from IKEA; the football and crime references both real life and fictional characters; Nilly takes on an alias becoming Mr. Sherl for his encounters in the pea-soup fog of London with the Crunch brothers and the two secret service agents Jack Jekyll and Ripper Hyde who work for Her Royal Highness’s Even More Secret Service. He also gets the chance to play in a football match at the enormous Wobbley Stadium as Beckadona Hamarooney Sherl. It’s also impossible not to draw parallels with rich Russian billionaires who own football clubs in the UK and the infamous Krays of the East End. Humour is often difficult to translate from one language to another but Tara Chace has done an amazing job with the translation and Mike Lowery’s quirky, amusing black-and-white drawings compliment the story so well.
No matter how crazy the plots, each story is clever, inventive and completely different. Children will love these ‘laugh-out-loud’ books and adults, sneaking a peak to discover what is so funny will find themselves chuckling away and unable to put them down either.
A truly hilarious read and once you’re hooked you’ll want to read the other titles in the series too – Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder: Time-Travel Bath Bomb and Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder: The End of the World. Maybe.