<Book review>

Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help by Douglas Anthony Cooper (2008)

There's this weedy, smart-alec kid, right? Called Milrose Munce. He doesn't do sporty stuff, or poetry, but he's keen on science, especially explosions...and he can see ghosts. In fact, some of his best friends are ghosts. There's Deeply Damaged Dave, for instance, whose love of unstable chemicals cut his life woefully short, and Cryogenic Kelvin who drank a cup of liquid nitrogen and promptly shattered into human ice cubes.

Actually, you can have quite a lot of fun with invisible friends...but it is best if you don't draw too much attention to yourself by, say, slapping your invisible friends heartily on the back when they make a bad joke:

The science teacher was not the only staff member who was beginning to take note of these peculiar incidents: how Milrose seemed to have a cheerful relationship with, well, empty space. Milrose, however, being carefree and irresponsible, had not taken note that note was being taken.

Now, you might suppose that Milrose is the only boy in the school who can see ghosts, but you would be wrong. There's this weedy, smart-alec girl, who doesn't do sporty stuff, or science, but does do poetry, so obviously Milrose has not come across her before, and nor does he immediately know what to make of her. She's dressed in a red plush smoking jacket, a white tuxedo shirt, black tailored silk trousers and dyed ballet slippers:

'The slippers, though. Should have tipped me off.'
'I'm always prepared.'
'For?'
'An audition. You never know when they'll suddenly need a prima ballerina.'
'Ah. So you dance.'
'No.'

Within a day they are to be stalwart companions and possibly a little bit more, for they have both been spotted interacting with empty air, and are both recommended for Professional Help.

See what devastation can occur when you lock two weedy but resourceful kids and a whole school full of ghosts into the Den of Professional Help...

What can I read next?

An easy read, this one. The text just slides off the page with witty little jokes. I really enjoyed it. I think this is the first fiction from Douglas Cooper for young readers.

However, if you fancy something similar, you might like to have a look at this creepy black humour from Neil Gaiman:

Or you might enjoy knocking around with Barnaby Grimes, the inimitable tick-tock lad, as introduced by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell:

You could also check out anything by Eoin Colfer of Artemis Fowl fame, but I'm thinking especially of this one:

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