cover image Mr. Stink

Mr. Stink

David Walliams, illus. by Quentin Blake, Razorbill, $9.99 paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-59514-332-7

Twelve-year-old Chloe does not fit in at her “posh” all-girls school or at home with her withdrawn father, social-climbing mother, and sickeningly perfect sister. Chloe befriends Mr. Stink (a homeless “tramp” named for his powerful smell) and his dog, Duchess, because he appears to be full of stories and to understand being misunderstood (“She wasn’t homeless like him, but she felt homeless in her heart”). Mr. Stink fancies himself a “wanderer,” and his lack of concern with society’s judgments gives Chloe confidence. But when she invites him to move into her shed, she is not prepared for the complications. As in Walliams’s The Boy in the Dress, Blake provides his trademark scrawly artwork; his images are as caricatured as the author’s over-the-top characterizations, particularly Chloe’s mother and Britain’s prime minister, who both try to take advantage of Mr. Stink. Walliams relies heavily on gross-out humor (the references to Mr. Stink’s stench are numerous) and Britishisms, which nearly overwhelm an already heavy-handed theme that everyone has secrets, flaws, idiosyncrasies, and a unique history that is of value. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)