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Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Russell Brand

Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Russell Brand
The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Russell Brand
Series: Trickster Tales #1
Published by Canongate on 6 November 2014
'Once upon a time, a mysterious time that exists through a window in your mind, a time that seemed, to those present, exactly like now does to us, except their teeth weren't so clean and more things were wooden, there was a town called Hamelin . . .'

In the first in his series of Trickster Tales, Russell Brand retells the classic children's story The Pied Piper of Hamelin. You'll be enchanted and revolted in equal measure by the host of characters you meet along the way: the anarchic rats, the arrogant townspeople, sharp-eyed Sam and of course the Pied Piper himself, all brought to life in Brand's inimitable style and with the illustrations of Costa Award-winner Chris Riddell.

Review by Dylan, age 10

Hello! My English homework is to write a book review using 10 of the words in the box below. So I thought I would kill lots of birds with one homework stone and:

  1. do my homework
  2. make my teacher, Mr Grimshaw, happy
  3. write a review for Book Walrus
  4. do the review I’ve been promising to do for ages on Russell Brand’s new book.

So, there are the homework words:

words for russell brand review

I’m going to start by feeling wretched it has taken three months … THREE WHOLE MONTHS … to get round to doing this review. I think Russell Brand is going to be dissatisfied about this, because my mum got an advance copy of the book before it even came out so we could write a review for its book launch. *Sigh* I am so sorry, Russell Brand. I like you a lot. You made me and my sister laugh in the film Bedtime Stories and I admire your lavish hair. It is like a cross between the hair of Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter and the hair of a prize-winner black poodle in a dog show. That’s a good thing.

I also like the way you cause pandemonium (which means wild and noisy disorder and is the best word in the word box) with your interesting view of the world. I don’t always understand what you say, but I like the way you say things. I also like that you are in a fight with Fox News because I do not like Fox News. Did you know the American President Barack Obama took the ‘news’ word off the ‘Fox News’ label at a dinner? So there was CBS News, CNN News and just Fox. I think that is funny.

Anyway, here I go. Into the depths of late reviews I go, feeling quite forlorn because it took a long time to write and I’m still not completely sure what to say. Basically, I can sum up Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin in 7 words –  PANDEMONIUM, POO JOKES, FART JOKES and RATS (I don’t think it counts for my homework if I use pandemonium twice but it is a very good word so I did).

It is hard to say that the characters are ‘likeable’ when they are like rejects from the ‘Grinch’ movie, but they are well-done characters because they don’t feel one-dimensional and they fit their roles as spoilt and truculent people, who want to get their own way and pick arguments with people who don’t let them. The designs of them are a bit peculiar and kind of hurt your eyes, like I think they are meant to. (I think this is why the devil goat character in the illustrations is wearing sunglasses.)

The only normal characters are Sam and his mum. Being normal in a world full of nightmare people makes them feel a bit melancholy, so they are blue in some of the illustrations

There are also rats

And even more rats.

Like so many rats that you can’t believe.

Strangely enough I found the story both confusing and straight-forward at the same time. Kind of like Fortunately, the Milk, which I reviewed last year with pictures and everything and Neil Gaiman said was the ‘best review ever’ (My mum told me to stop showing off but she says I can add a link if you want to see that review here because I am proud of it). The illustrations are amazing and impressive in both of these books, but particularly in this one and I can’t stop looking at them. They are done by Chris Riddell. I think he is the world’s best illustrator and if I could draw like him I would be totally blissful and never stop drawing pictures. Great job, Mr Riddell, great job.

There are some swears in this book, things like bada** and d**n. There is also a Pied Piper of Hamelin. I didn’t put him on my list of ordinary characters because he’s not ordinary and talking about him too much might spoil the story, but he is an excellent character so you should read the book to see.

So, it is time for my verdict. There are too many poo and fart jokes for me and there are swears that some parents won’t like. (My mum doesn’t mind because she is phlegmatic - which means she is calm about stuff, not that she is full of snot – and she says words are just words so it can’t hurt to read them. But she says you you shouldn’t use swears or people will think you are stupid. I don’t think she means Russell Brand though, because she loves Russell Brand and watches him on youtube). But there are also likeable characters and an intriguing story and some of the best pictures in the world. Plus this is a book by Russell Brand and Chris Riddell, which is a good thing. It is tricky though, because although I enjoyed it and thought it was a good book, I don’t want to shout ‘GO AND BUY IT NOW!’ like I sometimes do, because I think it might upset some people.



  1. You never disappoint Dylan. Well done on the homework and review. Loved it!

  2. Hi Dylan,
    Why are you still only 10 years old? Your style, grasp of the insane,wit and pinpoint observation gives you a perceptive age at least twice that of your chronological age.
    I was pleased that you spoke out against the overworked use of weak ‘jokes’ relating to bodily functions. Don’t you feel that too many children’s authors are rather patronising their readers by concentrating on this unpleasant natural function?
    Love and Peace to you and all book walruses,

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