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Muddle and Win (Muddle & Win) [Hardcover]

John Dickinson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
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Book Description

30 Aug 2012 Muddle & Win

Everyone has a Lifetime Deed Counter (LDC). It works like this:

You offer to help with the housework: Lifetime Good Deeds +1

You steal your little brother's sweets: Lifetime Bad Deeds +1

Looks straightforward, huh? But what if your every thought was disputed by opposing forces of good and evil - by an angel wearing ray bans (called Windleberry) and a demon in the form of a wart (called Muddlespot)? And within your mind they were fighting a fierce battle over your actions, a battle dictated by a game of poker?

When Muddlespot is promoted from a devil's janitor to special agent, the pressure is on for him to infiltrate Sally Jones and make her Bad. If he doesn't, it will be Very Bad for him. But as his mission leads him down Sally's ear and into the deepest recesses of her mind, all becomes unclear. Just what does it mean to be good? And can it be good to be bad?

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (30 Aug 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0857560360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857560360
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 13.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,235,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

(Some answers to things I get asked.)

What inspired you to become an author?

I liked reading, and of course my father (the author Peter Dickinson) was always banging away at his typewriter at home. At school I wrote short stories that pleased. So I just assumed that I could do it. It was a shock to find that writing novels was a lot harder than it looked.

Which authors have influenced you most?

I loved the CS Forrester novels and, of course, Tolkien. But I also liked TH White (THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING), Rudyard Kipling, Ingalls Wilder, Goodge (The Little White Horse), Buchan, MR James and Violet Needham. Oh, and Ursula Le Guin, especially her novel THE DISPOSSESSED.

Was English your favourite subject at school?

History, English and German. You don't have to have liked English to be an author, but it helps.

What would you be if you weren't an author?

I spent seventeen years at the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office and NATO. If I hadn't become an author I suppose I'd still be there. But my pipe dream is to be an aid convoy driver, and steer a great big machine through exotic places carrying lots of good things to people who need them.

Do you base your characters on real people?

No. Sometimes I will borrow a face, or some quality in someone I know, as a starting point. If you are going to say that a character "has steel in them" then it helps if you've seen someone who is pretty steely, so you know what it means. But what really determines the character is the role I want them to play in the novel.

You mean you build your characters according to the story, not the story around the characters?

Er... Good question!

The honest answer is 'it depends'. Most supporting characters, probably yes. And that can be dangerous. Characters need their own life. Where does that life come from? It has to come from yourself. You have to be able to imagine yourself acting like that, even if in real life you never would.

You are a Christian. How has this influenced you?

It's the other way around. The things that prompt me to write about moral confusion, duty and sacrifice also prompt me to be a Christian. What tempts us? What is the Fall like? That's why my books resonate with these ideas. But I don't write to persuade. I ask the questions that interest me.

What's your latest book about?

WE is set, oh, about fifty years in the future on the moon of a giant planet roughly four billion kilometres away, where it's very cold and as remote and hostile as you can get. Once you're there, you're there for life. So what would it be like? And what would we be like, to go there?

Product Description


"Hear the name John Dickinson, and you expect something intriguing and original. And with this fascinating book for younger readers, you won't be disappointed. ...Stories don't have to be quick and easy to be enjoyable, and there's nothing wrong with expecting your readers to reach high. This book is touching and funny and provocative, and we promise you - it will be well worth any effort you put into reading it." (The Bookbag)

"This is one of those books that takes figurative meaning literally. And you end up with a whole lot of light-hearted silly good fun. But parallel to this, Muddle and Win also explores concepts of good, evil, truth, and ideas (just some of life's itsy-bitsy philosophical questions). At times, I thought the storyline was aimed at 10 years or younger, but the language structure (and maybe some of the ideas) is aimed at an older reader. There are bits for everyone in there." (WeSatDown blogspot)

"Muddle & Win is bonkers, but in a good way! I was hurled into this fabulously imagined world that was brilliantly fun, silly, witty and wonderfully written and put together. I immediately fell in love with brave little Muddlespot... The storyline is engaging and is perfectly paced, it is one of them one-sitting books that I love so much. I really haven't come across anything like Muddle & Win before and I think everyone should read it themselves to experience the full on punch of silliness it packs into every page." (Carly Fiction Fascination blogspot)

"It's a brilliant, funny story about good and bad which is so well written that even slower, less capable readers will probably get through it in a day or two. I really enjoyed the story and think that so many pre-teens will too, its a great, fun read with a brilliant serious message underneath it all." (Raimy Rawr ReadaRaptor blogspot)

"It's funny, and it's scary, and it's very, very sharp in its observations of human nature. ...It's a huge relief to come across such an intelligent, thought-provoking book for children." (Kath Langrish Steel Thistles blogspot)

Book Description

A mind-bogglingly funny story about the battles and adventures inside our own heads.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who will win in the battle for Sally Jones? 10 April 2013
By pacem et amorem TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A fun a rip-roaring adventure, detailing the fight between Muddlespot and Windleberry for Sally Jone's soul. Who will win? Muddlespot - sent from downstairs in Pandemonium to turn Sally to the `dark side' or Windleberry - sent from upstairs to make sure her Lifetime Bad Deeds counter stays at zero?
The thought that everyone has a Lifetime Deeds Counter is very interesting and I suppose introduces Karma to children in an easily accessible way. It will certainly encourage thought about how our actions affect others and indeed ourselves. Every action has a consequence - a very good lesson for everyone to learn.
This book is sure to appeal to all ages (adults included). It is clever and funny, with the right mix of mayhem and message. Highly praised and recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars aged 10 ? 5 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It is the size of this book that makes it for the older child rather than the content. I have also read muddle earth from the same series and like that, this book is too wordy for my my daughter to listen to as she gets distracted, however older children can find this a little young not in the way it is written just the world it is in. So only 3 stars as you need to be an (older?) more confident reader to read it but at that level the plot & characters a little young.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, enjoyable story 4 Dec 2013
By J. R. Atkinson VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
An angel and a demon are sent to Earth to battle for Sally Jones' soul. It sounds pretty serious stuff but this book is a lot of fun. Ultimately, it makes the point that you mustn't take people for granted, however nice they may be, and it is ok to be a bit rebellious every now and then. The book's pace is great, the characters are fun and the scenario set up is explained well. The one very slight criticism is that there are some references in there which I think children will find hard to unpick.

A good book for the older primary school children and beyond.
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By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I did like this book. I did not love it though. It seemed like a book that was waiting to happen. It set up a scenario really well, and then all of a sudden it just seemed like it was over - all in a rush, which was a bit of a shame. I rather hope this is because this may be the first in a series and there are more to come, which would make sense of the imbalance in the book better.

The story reminded me rather of John Connolly's books for children in which the forces of good and evil are unleashed on an unsuspecting population and find themselves changing because of their proximity to humans and their all too human foibles which suddenly make the black and white of heaven and hell a rather more greyish, in the middle kind of thing.

In this story, Muddlespot, a lowly cleaning demon from the reaches of hell, is sent to try and infiltrate the mind of paragon of virtue Sally Jones. Muddlespot is not sent because he is clever. He is sent because he is expendable. He has no idea what he is doing, and when, entirely by accident, he makes Sally less than perfect, all hell, quite literally breaks loose.

This is very funny in places, and is an easy, fast paced read. It would be great for eights and ups who are looking for humorous, adventure stories with a bit of bite.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Endearing 12 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Tensions can be taut and relationships can be rocky between siblings, especially so with twins where one like Sally may have 20/20 vision and is markedly better at everything than sister Billie who wears glasses and performs poorly. Everyone expects and is used to Sally being good - but is she too good to be true? Is Billie misunderstood?

Discord is a theme at the heart of `Muddle and Win' and it is to be found on earth, in hell, and even in heaven. Apart from Sally and her family, amongst various demons and devils, or angels and seraphims, are 2 special agents - Muddlespot from down below for bad, and Windleberry from up above for good. They struggle to influence Sally, but her conflicts are within herself. `Muddle and Win' is a cunning morality tale, introducing principles of karma as the balance of an individual's actions through life.

However `Muddle and Win' is also highly imaginative and full of humour - with an entertaining and enjoyable plot, plus engaging and endearing characters. It is well written in short chapters, use is made of different fonts to emphasise wild exploits, and in places twin columns cleverly indicate different perspectives. The target age group for young readers is unclear - but it appealed to me as a granddad - and I award 5-star rating.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Confusing..... 2 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really found it difficult to get into this book. As far as I could tell, the action takes place within one Sally Jones, who is "good". Muddlespot is a sort of imp(?) tasked with turning Sally bad. OK, his character is sort of endearing in an odd way, but I found the book rather hard to read. It may be my imagination isn't what it used to be, but I'm not sure this book will get much of a welcome from younger children.
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4 Out of 5
You know how you can read a book and even though you weren't really expecting to, you loved every second? When it's one of those books that has that magic, that spark, that just reminds you so much of when you were young and innocent and everything was absolute magic? Muddle and Win was that book for me. I'm not going to say it'll be that way for everyone or that it's a perfect, flawless read, but it just had a spark I've not seen in kids books for ages. It's funny, witty, quirky, exceptionally written and just so amazing. Kids and parents alike will gobble it up. It's the best kids fiction I've read since Roald Dahl and Lemony Snickett.
"The object of Mission Alpha was..."
"Sally Jones."
Just like any good story, Muddle and Win is about the battle between good and evil. In this battle, just one person could tilt the balance. This person is Sally Jones, who has thousands of Good Deeds and nada Bad ones.
Sally is definitely Good. But she needs to be Bad, Bad, Bad if Hell is going to have a shot.
That's why Muddlespot, a wart-turned-imp-turned-Agent-of-Evil, is sent to turn Sally Bad, to stop her streak of endless good deeds and maybe throw in a few naughty ones.
If he fails? Well, it will be Very, Very Bad for him and the cleaners will have a verrryy tough job getting rid of his body... bits.
His job isn't helped by the presence of one of Heaven's best, Agent Windleberry, an angel in Ray-bans and a tuxedo, who is determined to keep Sally exactly as she is - Good.
Let The Battle For Sally Jones begin...
I've never read anything by Dickinson before (I don't think...) but from the moment I saw this book in all its marvellously odd glory, I knew I just had to read it. And from the very first page, I knew it wouldn't let me down.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars That age-old battle between good and evil...
Sally and Bobbie are twins - one can't do anything wrong, and one can't to anything right. When, downstairs, in Pandaemonium, they see that her Lifetime Deeds Counter is showing... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Both the Macs
"Infiltration has occurred." Shock, horror in Heaven! On Earth one of its greatest successes, ultra-good schoolgirl Sally Jones, is being targeted by an envoy from Hell. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mr. D. L. Rees
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and funny book for older children
Muddlespot has been sent on a mission of great importance: to turn Sally Jones to the dark side. For an overgrown wart that cleans up entrails, his promotion to special agent was a... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Hannah @ My Book Journey
4.0 out of 5 stars Brimming with good ideas
Muddle and Win:

Muddle is Muddlespot, an ex-wart, ex-cleaner sent up from the depths of Pandemonium to try and do what so many others have failed to do before:... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Tim Roast
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun - Yay, Verily!
Sally Jones is Good. Unusual enough in a fourteen-year-old, but it's more than just being nice and behaving well all the time. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Book Gannet
3.0 out of 5 stars has the potential to be brilliant, but the ending lets it down
Sally is good, but being good is hard and as they say, the reward for digging the best hole is a bigger shovel. Read more
Published 24 months ago by H. Ashford
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