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Ribblestrop Paperback – 6 Apr 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (6 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847382304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847382306
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 0.1 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Masterful knockabout humour....the book bulges with irreverent fun and incident."
-- The Irish Times 23rd May 2009

"And the next big children's book is... about a bunch of kids in a boarding school! ... a hilarious and morally questionable tale about a disastrous school whose pupils can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Ribblestrop has the "crazy school" appeal of Hogwarts and the grim humour of Lemony Snicket, and looks like a winner." -- Suzi Feay, The Independent, 14th Sept 2008.

"Andy Mulligan's first foray into fiction is a blast of fresh air. It's weird and wonderful and very hard to define...Ribblestrop is disgracefully dangerous high-octane fun of the highest order: an outrageous delight." -- Philip Ardagh, author of 'Grubtown Tales', in the Guardian, 4th April 2009.

"I can well see this book being the turning point in someone's reading career, where they engage with the chutzpah, the bravura oddness and sheer 'how's he getting away with this?!' factor completely, and get taken on a right journey. For them it will only be a five star delight. So if your child is absorbed, thrills over this and demands a place in a boarding school, don't come complaining to us." -- thebookbag.co.uk

"If I had my time again I would without hesitation send my children to Ribblestrop." -- Salley Vickers, author of 'Miss Garnet's Angel'.

"Ribblestrop is disgracefully dangerous high-octane fun of the highest order: an outrageous delight."
-- Saturday Guardian, 04 Apr 09

In a short story by Saki, "the Schartz-Metterklume Method" is a bogus system of teaching dreamt up by one Lady Carlotta (who is mistaken for a governess and goes with the flow). It involves making children understand history by acting it out themselves, which - when studying ancient Rome - proves extremely dangerous. (Think Sabine women.) Let me assure you that this is nothing compared to the dangers faced by the staff and, primarily, pupils of Ribblestrop school.

Andy Mulligan's first foray into children's fiction is a blast of fresh air. It's weird and wonderful and very hard to define. The action almost exclusively takes place in and around Ribblestrop Towers, left roofless following an arson attack the previous term. The school motto becomes "Life Is Dangerous" and mere attendance proves to be an excellent training ground for this undeniable truth.

I suspect that Disney won't be in any hurry to turn Ribblestrop into a family movie although, miraculously, it does have a real feel-good heart beating at its core. The pupils drink and use firearms. They walk on railway lines, one hides in a freezer, and there's even an incident involving a chainsaw and a power cable.

But this is far from being a 21st-century attempt at updating St Trinian's. The alcohol is a tot of rum each, supplied by the headmaster to make up for the lack of heating (and roof). The weapons include a gun given to Sanchez, a Colombian gangster's son, hiding out at the school following a botched kidnap attempt on him; and a flintlock pistol and crossbow used by Casper Vyner, whose mother leases the building to the school (while still living in the damp South Tower). The attempt to cut the power supply is part of a planned rescue mission.

Amazingly, in the midst of the occasional train crash, credit-card theft and mind-control experiment, most of the students are a force for good for most of the time. They care about the school and they care about each other, so the reader cares. They include Sam, his friend Ruskin and around a dozen overseas orphans. Then there's the wonderful Millie, the only girl at Ribblestrop, around whom much of the action revolves.

It's what's going on beneath their feet that they should worry about. Despicable experiments are being carried out down in some old second world war tunnels. By around page 280, really unpleasant things begin to happen. Be aware, this certainly is not a light comedy for all ages. A major character is seriously injured in an act of heroism and a bent copper becomes less and less of a comic character as the heat is turned up.

The staff are headed by the extraordinarily good-natured Dr Giles Norcross-Webb, who is very much of the old school of everyone-pulling-together and looking-on-the-bright-side. He sails through the action blissfully unaware of just how serious things are, bringing real charm to the proceedings. He's ably assisted by Captain Routon, who sees every crisis as a challenge to be compared to one in his colourful military past, and Professor Clarissa Worthington, who proves her worth in many ways. The villain of the piece is Miss Hazlitt. And there's so much more to the ghastly Hazlitt than meets the eye.

Ribblestrop is disgracefully dangerous high-octane fun of the highest order: an outrageous delight. It was pleasing to learn that - unlike Saki's Lady Carlotta - author Andy Mulligan is, or was, himself a genuine teacher. You have been warned. -- Philip Ardagh in The Guardian, April 4, 2009

This is a must-read book for both adults and children and perhaps we will hear more from the head, students and staff of this rather unique school.
-- Inis magazine, July 2009

About the Author

Andy Mulligan was brought up in South London and educated at Oxford University. He worked as a theatre director for ten years before travels in Asia prompted him to re-train as a teacher. He has taught English and drama in India, Brazil, the Philippines and the UK. He now divides his time between London and Manila.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By pale rider on 3 April 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Imagine the anarchy and anti-bureaucracy of 'Dead Poets' Society' crossed with the glorious mayhem of St Trinians and you get something of the feel of this utterly compelling and upflifting first novel. My twelve year old son is not a great reader, to say the least, but I heard about this book from my local bookseller, in particular that it had the most brilliant description of a football match EVER and was likely to appeal to boys and girls equally. My son devoured all 401 pages in three days and is now asking me where the next one is. I was so curious about the book that I read it myself and I loved it just as much as he did. This is a book that is both utterly un-preachy and pro-child - in the way that Philip Pullman is - and combines a plot that is like a white-knuckle helterskelter ride with utterly memorable characterisation. Andy Mulligan is a brilliant writer by any standards - and I am told by his publisher that there is a follow-up book coming next year. Can't be soon enough for this family!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Draper on 4 Dec 2009
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I adored this book from start to finish. The characters were rich and original and I loved the fact that they were from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds. I particularly enjoyed the girl in the book who made a refreshing change to the usual stereotypes and would make this books not only the best book for boys that I have ever read but also great for anti-pink girls. I found this book full of humour, suspense and action and I look forward to reading his next masterpiece.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Chrome Orange on 3 May 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with the other two reviewers, but think there's even more to it than this. Ingeniously plotted, with brilliant set-pieces ( two classic football matches like the one in Kes but brutal ) this is strong stuff - chaotic, subversive, horrid and hilarious by turns. Unlike Hogwarts, brilliant though that is, Ribblestrop is bang up-to-date with scientific experiments, robots,helicopter rides, and a great mobile phone running gag. Like all great farces, it leaves you gob-smacked and breathless at its daring, with a climax that is sweetly satisfying. But there are serious themes underlying too - not least "the demon spirit of ungovernableness" which it celebrates ( this horrid but pertinent phrase was David Rudkin's in the TV play Penda's Fen). Andy Mulligan was amongst other things a theatre Director, and his sense of pace, timing and dramatic build-up are immaculate. After reading a review in The Guardian, I bought this for my eldest grandson (I'm a retired English/Theatre Studies teacher). But I got hooked, and immediately sent off for another copy. It should be required reading for all Ministers of Education - and a few headteachers too, perhaps. Enjoy the ride!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Secret Spi on 9 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback
Ribblestrop is a great book for 11-14 year olds. I personally don't understand why it's "hilarious" , but it seems these days people only read covers. I give Ribblestrop 5 stars!
( Review by Stickman2000)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By malatrait on 23 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a school story, but not Such as We Know it, Jim. The adventures of Millie, Sanchez and the others would have Health and Safety, not to mention OFSTED, horrified, but Andy Mulligan, clearly a teacher writing for the delectation of his pupils, knows how to keep 'em on the edges of their seats...I specially enjoyed the no-holds-barred football matches, and of course, though Millie is the only girl in the school, she is no shrinking violet, and takes a full part in all the hair-raising adventures. Warmly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Guise on 23 April 2009
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed Ribblestrop.

The weird world of Ribblestrop school leaps from the page in this hugely entertaining read. The children and adults inhabiting this world are a strange mix of colourful characters I grew very fond of over the course of the book.

All is not as it seems at Ribblestrop and there is dark secret to be uncovered by the fearless pupils - if they dare! Is there anybody they can trust to help them?

Well done to Andy Mulligan on his debut - could this be this Summer's blockbuster? I think it's definitely in with a shot...

Well worth a look - get it now and read it before your friends do!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charlie on 28 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
i found this one of the best books that i have read you even get nervous in the dangerous sections!!! :) this book is totaly gripping and it is good that there are now two more books in the series
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