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Muddle and Win (Muddle & Win) Hardcover – 30 Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (30 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857560360
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857560360
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,670,896 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.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By pacem et amorem VINE VOICE on 10 April 2013
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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Format: Hardcover
4½ 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.
Read more ›
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By Book Gannet TOP 500 REVIEWERTOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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. No, Sally is truly good - she's never done a bad deed, not one! And that's why she's so dangerous.

A war is being fought, a never-ending war, between Heaven and Hell, and people like Sally can tip the balance. That's why things in Pandemonium are hotting up, and how a former wart-turned-imp called Muddlespot finds himself throwing tar bombs, parachuting onto heads, bargaining with cats and running from Fluffies (angels), all in a quest to infiltrate Sally's mind (er, literally) and make her Bad.

Except getting inside Sally's head turns out to be the easy bit. From there on things start to get really interesting...

Funny, fast and clever, this modern tale of mostly good and somewhat evil is a grand romp packed with wonderful ideas and intriguing characters. Muddlespot is an innocent imp caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, the devils and demons are gruesome and ghastly, the angels are armed with music and experts at putting the holy into war (yay, verily!). Particularly Agent Windleberry who swiftly finds out that rules and perfection mean nothing in the real world.

Played out against the backdrop of two very un-identical twins, you'll find yourself willing Sally to be bad and cheering for the little imp in this thoroughly fun adventure. Personally I think Shades the cat was my hero, but in this tale of unlikely heroes Muddlespot wasn't far behind. This playful tale begs to be read aloud - and has a few sly references to keep the adults chuckling - just mind out for that hammer, don't remove those Ray-bans and prepare to be entertained - yay, verily!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sally is good, but being good is hard and as they say, the reward for digging the best hole is a bigger shovel. Heaven knows this, and they know if a single demon can get in her head he could do a lot of damage, so they have a host of angels waiting to stop any demons.

Hell is in trouble, special agent after special agent has been defeated by these angels and therefore proved to be useless. The boss has to be seen to do something, so his boss won't decide he's useless as well (You REALLY don't want to be seen as useless when your bosses are demons) and this is where Muddlespot comes in. Technically he is only a re animated wart, whose only job is to be a cleaner in Pandemonium, and is actually leading a surprisingly blameless life. The thing is, he succeeds where the other special agents have failed. Then all hell (and heaven) breaks loose.

I truly enjoyed this book, and its opening was without fault. Dickinson has an interesting and engaging writing style, his characters are fun, and I was really impressed by some of his satirical descriptions. But the ending left a lot to be desired. It felt like the point Dickinson trying to make wasn't fully developed and explored, and I didn't find the climax that climactic.

Still this is a good book, and worth a read, but not brilliant.
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