Beano Dennis & Gnasher: The Battle For Bash Street School by Craig Graham and Mike Sterling

The Blurb On The Back:

This is the ultimate story, told with funny pictures!

Can ten-year old kids really outwit the most cunning teachers in the universe and, after millions of years, finally make school cool?

It’s an SOS: Save Our School!

When mysterious new teachers arrive to lay down the law at notoriously naughty Bash Street School, Dennis, Gnasher and friends finally face a test they simply can’t afford to fail.

BEANO DENNIS & GNASHER: THE BATTLE FOR BASH STREET SCHOOL was released in the United Kingdom on 8th July 2021.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order Beano Dennis & Gnasher: The Battle For Bash Street School by Craig Graham, Mike Stirling and Nigel Parkinson from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Dennis Menace is gutted when he realises that the long summer holidays are over and he has to go back to school.  But things get even worse when Dennis’s arch enemy – the boastful Walter Brown – lets slip that his father, Wilbur Brown (Beanotown’s mayor and the owner of its biggest and most evil company, WilburCorp) is dropping by with some news that will put an end to the pranks and tricks of Dennis and his friends.

Sure enough, the Mayor announces that he’s appointing Mrs Clamp as Bash Street School’s new head teacher and her sidekick Mr Fayle as Master of Behavioural Remedies.  Both Clamp and Fail are notorious for being big on discipline and rules and making school as boring as possible and they’ve been tasked with improving Bash Street School’s scores on its next inspection.  

It isn’t long before Clamp and Fayle introduce their new regime and bad though it is, Dennis and his friends are horrified when the nicest teacher in the school – Miss Mistry – reveals that she may have to leave under the new regime.  Somehow the Bash Street kids have to teach Clamp and Fayle who really rules the roost at their school …

Craig Graham and Mike Stirling’s funny novel for readers aged 8+ (the first in a new spin-off series from the Beano comic with great illustrations by Nigel Parkinson) has a more modern, diverse Beantown with less corporal punishment than when I read the comic but that’s definitely no bad thing and it retains its core of anti-authoritarian silliness and pranks.  It would particularly suit kids who love the comic but are reluctant to tackle books.

I was a big fan of the Beano when I was a kid.  It’s a real British institution, filled with naughtiness as the kids pull one over on teachers time and time again – so I was delighted to pick up this book.  It’s the first of a novelised spin off series from the classic comic but Nigel Parkinson’s illustrations do a great job of tying it back to that and really bring the classic characters of Dennis, Gnasher and Minnie to life.  Graham and Stirling are both senior editors on the comic, which is probably why the story does feel like you could see it in the comic.  

However the Beanotown and Bash Street School of this book is not the same as I remember from my youth.  For starters Dennis has two new-to-me friends – wheelchair user Rubi Von Screwtop (who is very smart and likes embarrassing people) and Mandi Sharma (who’s a bit of a neurotic worrier).  I liked the fact that they’re both female because the Bean of my youth was very male centric (Minnie was pretty much the only female character back when I read it) and it was also very white back then.  There’s also a bit more of a satirical edge to the humour, which draws on the need to pass school inspections but also pokes fun at evil companies and politicians and how school should have a fun and creative side to it rather than just be about following rules.  There’s also no corporal punishment in this book, whereas it formed a big part of the comics of my use and that is definitely a big improvement and Walter is no longer known as the softy and although he’s still a bit of a creep, he’s also clearly desperate to get the approval of his bullying and emotionally distant father.

The story itself is quite silly – which is exactly what you’d expect – featuring a bullying new head teacher on a mission to close down Bash Street School and Dennis and pals determined to put a stop to it.  I really enjoyed the scenes involving Super Epic Turbo Cricket and the reveal around Mr Fayle and there are some nice nods to Bash Street’s history as well that older readers will recognise and appreciate.

All in all, I thought this was a fun read and perfect if you have a young reader who’s a bit reluctant when it comes to tackling books but really loves the comic.  I’d definitely be happy to check out more in the series.  

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