Mr Stink by David Walliams
After watching the BBC’s enjoyable TV version of Mr Stink at Christmas, I was inspired to read the book to see what Walliams, who adapted his own book for the TV, and put in a cameo as the Prime Minister, was like on the page. I had read somewhere that the book was more ‘Dahlesque’, so I passed a pleasant hour in bed this morning seeing if that was so.
Ironically, on first impressions you’re immediately drawn to comparisons with Roald Dahl by Quentin Blake’s illustrations, Dahl and Blake having had a long and profitable collaboration which Walliams looks likely to repeat. But onwards to the story.
1. Scratch ‘N’ Sniff
Mr Stink stank. He also stunk. And if it is correct English to say he stinked, then he stinked as well. He was the stinkiest stinker who ever lived.
A stink is the worst type of smell. A stink is worse than a stench. And a stench is worse than a pong. And a pong is worse than a whiff. And a whiff can be enough to make your nose wrinkle.
It wasn’t Mr Stink’s fault that he stank. He was a tramp after all. He didn’t have a home and so he never had the opportunity to have a proper wash like you and me. After a while the smell just got worse and worse.
So that’s every reader hooked and already chortling from page one.
After introducing us to Stink and his dog Duchess, we meet the other main character of the story. Chloe is a lonely schoolgirl, she’s slightly pudgy and shy. She gets bullied by Rosamund at school, and ignored by her mother at home, who dotes instead on her little sister Annabelle. Her mother, who is a candidate for parliament is so driven, even her father is scared of her.
On the way to and from school, Chloe sees Mr Stink each day, sitting on the same bench in the park. One day she does something of ‘unimaginable kindness‘ and offers him a fiver. He refuses it, but lets her bring him and Duchess some sausages another day. Their friendship forged, things get complicated when Chloe offers him their family shed to live in…
Underneath the malodorous humour is a serious story about bullying, compassion, and learning to stand up for and believe in yourself. For most of the book though, the Mr Stink’s personal perfume is to the forefront, and like Schulz’s Pigpen (left), he’s oblivious to it, unless he can use it to get a seat in a coffee shop. There are some great asides about stinkiness of various sorts that couldn’t be portrayed in the TV film, and there’s a great B-U-R-P!!! that takes up around a page and a half, which is guaranteed a giggle.
The TV show was well done, Hugh Bonneville as Stink the gentleman vagabond in particular was fantastic. I liked how he lived in a big pile of leaves, which wasn’t in the book. Chloe is more attractive in the film, being tall, slim, and a bit soppy. There is much to like in both book and film, and the film largely remains true to the book, the changes being in the little details mainly. I don’t know any children who, having read them, have not enjoyed Walliams’s books. I’m counting myself in with them now too. (8/10)
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I bought my copy. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
Mr Stink by David Walliams, Harper Collins paperback