I’ve been a huge fan of Barry Hutchison for ages. He is one of those incredibly talented authors who can write for all ages and in a range of different genres. His Invisible Fiends series is one of my favourite series and is delightfully creepy. I was sucked in to the series with Mr Mumbles and eagerly awaited the next books in the series. Barry’s next few books, The 13th Horseman and The Book of Doom were hilariously funny books for older readers and I loved these just as much. Earlier this year Barry released the first book in his brilliant new series for younger readers all about Benjamin Blank, The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.
In an alternate 15th century, where dragons roam, sailing ships transform into submarines, and blacksmiths build steampunk robots, ten-year-old orphan Benjamin Blank battles monsters, rescues maidens and discovers fantastic new lands, but never quite manages to get his homework handed in on time. Each adventure sees Ben and his friends, Paradise Little and Wesley Chant, face a new monstrous menace.
The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing is a hilarious, rollicking adventure that will have you laughing out loud as you follow Ben and his friends on their quest. Ben desperately wants to be a hero and when a girl called Paradise turns up in his village looking for a warrior, Ben sees his chance. A monster is terrorising Paradise’s village and she needs a warrior to save them and vanquish the monster. Ben hasn’t had much practice but he’s the only warrior around that can help. Armed with a magic gauntlet, Ben sets off with Paradise to save her village from the Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.
The thing I love the most about Barry’s books is the dialogue. The conversations and interactions between his characters always makes me laugh and I certainly laughed my way through The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing. This is a perfect book to read aloud as it really keeps kids’ attention. There is one particular part of the book, involving a troll and his game of ‘Burp-or-Death’ that I love reading out to kids. I can hardly get through this part with out cracking up laughing and kids absolutely love it, especially boys. If you’re looking for the perfect read aloud for ages 8 and up you really can’t go past The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing. I guarantee it will be a winner!
I love Chris Mould’s illustrations and they perfectly match Barry’s story! They are quirky and add an extra layer of humour to the story. I especially love Chris’ cover illustration, with the Shark-Headed Bear-Thing creeping up on Ben, and his illustrations of my favourite troll in his y-front undies.
There are more books coming in the series, including The Swivel-Eyed Ogre-Thing (which has just been released) and The Moon-Faced Ghoul-Thing (coming in October). I can’t wait to read more adventures of Benjamin Blank and see how he defeats new monsters. Grab a copy of The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing from your library or bookshop now.