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Barry Loser Hates Half Term! by Jim Smith

Barry is being sent to spend half term at Pirate Camp on Mogden Island. What could possibly go wrong? As I recall from my days in the scouts (admittedly not pirate scouts), just about anything and everything.

To begin with, Barry's forgotten the poles for his tent, the camp is full of younger 'kiddiwinkles' and Barry's arch nemesis, Gordon Smugly, is bossing them all around. To make matters worse, Burt Barnacle, whose pirate stories and activities Barry used to enjoy, has gone to the great pirate ship in the sky, leaving the island under the dubious supervision of Morag, his warty daughter. The story finds its true villain in a property developer called Donald Cox, who is trying to buy Mogden Island and turn it into a luxury holiday resort. With help from his new friends Sally Bottom (a girl hampered with an even more unfortunate name than Barry), Renard Dupont, Stump Leg and Seymour, Barry forms a plan to find buried treasure on the island and save Pirate Camp! Cue another hilarious, vaguely piratical adventure.

The Barry Loser books might seem pretty silly (and they are—hooray!) but they also present an amazingly well-realised and inventively-illustrated childhood world that it would be a shame to miss. Loosely based on Jim's own childhood ('Barry Loser' was his school nickname), you will find that Barry and his friends, their slang speech and (to some extent) the weird situations in which they find themselves, are completely believable. The illustrations are funny and original, making use of diagrams, cross sections, and a variety of whacky perspectives. The Barry books could, at their very best, inform a love of drawing as well as reading. That's why they are, to make use of Barry's lingo, superkeel!

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