Beano Dennis & Gnasher: The Bogeyman Of Bunkerton Castle by Craig Graham and Mike Stirling

The Blurb On The Back:

Is it a comic?  Is it a book!?  No, it’s a Beano boom!

Are you afraid of the Bogeyman?!

After Lord Snooty flees Bunkerton Castle, Dennis, Gnasher and friends are invited to attend the ultimate spooky sleepover.  Will they last until morning?

We dare you to find out!

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order BEANO DENNIS & GNASHER: THE BOGEYMAN OF BUNKERTON CASTLE by Craig Graham and Mike Stirling from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Dennis the Menace is very upset when he learns that his friend, Lord Marmaduke Bunkerton (better known as Snooty) is planning to sell his ancestral home of Bunkerton Castle and buy a new flat with his aunt away from Beanotown in the city.  The reason is that the Bunkerton Bogeyman – a dreadful spirit who has haunted the Bunkertons for centuries but who Snooty always thought was just a superstition – has suddenly appeared and been terrorising him in his own castle by moving objects off walls and screaming at him to leave the castle. 

Even worse, Snooty has sold Bunkerton Castle to Walter’s awful dad, Mayor Wilbur Brown who plans to turn it into a hotel and tourist attraction designed to get as much money off its customers as possible.  When Walter bets Dennis and the gang that they would be too scared to spend a whole night in the Castle, Dennis agrees to take him on but only if Walter joins them.  If Dennis wins, he and the gang can stay for free.  If they lose, then they have to pay full price (and that is a lot of money!)

As Dennis and the gang bunk down for their night at Bunkerton Castle, they soon learn that there’s something very odd going on within the Castle walls …

The 5th in Craig Graham and Mike Stirling’s “Boomic” Beano spin-off series for readers aged 8+ is a spooky affair filled with more snot than you can shake a Kleenex at.  Nigel Parkinson’s illustrations work well with the text and although some of the characters look different to when I read the comics *cough cough* years ago but that’s no bad thing.  This is a great, silly series that would work well with reluctant readers.

This is the 3rd book that I’ve read in this Beano spin-off series and I am genuinely impressed with how Graham and Stirling have managed to keep up the gag content while remaining true to the spirit of the original comic.  The jokes and pranks – including all the snot jokes and fart jokes – work well for the target readership of those aged 8+ while there’s a strong nostalgic feel here for those of us who are a little bit older but remember the comic fondly from our youth.  

Parkinson’s illustrations are particularly good here because many of the characters are the same as for the comic, but I was interested to see that some, like Snooty and Pie Face, have had a bit of a redesign.  That is no bad thing, incidentally, there is always room to develop and my memories of The Beano are from the 1980s, which was very much a different time.  I particularly like the fact that there is much more inclusivity in these books than what the comics achieved when I was young, which is a really positive thing and great to see.

This book has a very spooky theme with the Bunkerton Bogeyman, who is absolutely as disgusting and snot riddled as you would imagine.  The plot is very straightforward – Dennis and pals are going to spend the night at the Castle and try to catch him – and there are plenty of scares and surprises and things that go bump in the night.  Jim “JJ” Jones was a new-to-me character and if I’m being honest, I did not quite get what she brought to the proceedings as her role could have been equally done by Minnie.  I do like the dynamic between Dennis and Gnasher though – their friendship is something that really comes through in these books – and also worth a mention is the dynamic between Walter and his dad.  What comes through is that Walter (terrible kid though he is) really wants the love and affection of his dad, who is just categorically incapable of giving it to him because he’s too selfish, greedy and self-involved.  I’m not sure kids would automatically pick up on that but reading it as an adult, it did make me feel sorry for Walter, even though he is still a rotter.

All in all, this was a fun read with some twists and turns and things coming good in the end.  I hope that Beano keep going with these books because they are perfect for reluctant readers as as the comic style graphics makes it very engaging and fun to follow and the stories are silly enough to hold the attention.

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