A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{January 11, 2013}   Mr. Stink by David Walliams

MrStinkPlot: Chloe is a very lonely girl: she is ignored at home and bullied at school. The only person who is nice to her is the smelly old tramp in the park. Her mother would never approve of her talking to Mr. Stink but Chloe is convinced that he has a fascinating story to tell and she is determined to help him. When he needs a place to stay, Chloe decides to hide him in the garden shed but she has no idea what changes this small act of kindness will cause.

This novel came at the perfect time for me. Before starting, I had been feeling depressed about a terrible, dehumanizing blog post about the homeless people who frequent my library (I will not link it, he doesn’t deserve the attention).  It was thus a comfort to read Walliam’s much more open-minded approach to the subject.

The beginning of the novel reminded me a lot of Roald Dahl’s novel The Twits. There is a clear comparison to be made between the description of Mr. Twit’s revolting beard and that of Mr.Stink’s overwhelming smell. But where Mr. Twit’s lack of hygiene is a sign of his cruelty, Walliams is doing something very different with his character. Mr. Stink’s smell is a joke, but he isn’t. I hear Walliam’s being compared to Dahl a lot; in fact, I’ve done it myself. He has the humour, playful language and exaggerated situations that Dahl is known for but without the cruelty or easy distinctions between good and bad.

Just as his most recent novel, Gangsta Granny, encourages kids (and grown-up kids like myself ;)) to reconsider their prejudices about the elderly, Mr. Stink is about learning to see the homeless as people with their own stories and with something valuable to contribute. And he does it in a fun way.

A very fun and thoughtful novel.

2013 (#2)


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