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The Worst Class in the World

Joanna Nadin

Welcome to Class 4B, otherwise known as The Worst Class in the World. And you’ll be glad you came. Because while in class 4A there is swotty stuff going on, in class 4B there’s just a whole lot of fun. Not that the Head, Mrs Bottomly-Blunt would see it that way. Not that long-suffering but really rather lovely form teacher, Mr Nidgett would see it that way. Not that Ofsted would see it that way. But look at this way: if you’re laughing, surely you’re learning?

Problem solving, cooperation and healthy competition are top lessons for our raucous bunch in 4B. And in this first book come two neat stories that explore all that, and more. The first story, called Biscuit King, is a tale of how a simple snack-time comparison explodes into an all-class baking contest, with some colourful results. And the next, called Show and Tell, looks at the wisdom of bringing pets into class. Also, with colourful results. None of the colourful results are of course compatible with Mrs Bottomly-Blunt’s list of school rules (which include commandments such as ‘No Tomfoolery’ and ‘No Pretending to be Daft’).

So, let’s meet Class 4B. They don’t exactly aim to be troublemakers but just somehow are, thanks to their individual peculiarities and clashing personalities. There’s tell-tales, greedy gutses, liars and, marvellously, a boy who wants to be the first human boy to do practically anything (like swim faster than a shark). The only two kids who aren’t off-the-scale bonkers are our main characters, best friends Manjit and Stanley, who use their brand name ‘Manley’ on joint projects. (Their Manley biscuits made me laugh out loud, and even more so when I discovered what they contained). But while Manjit and Stanley aren’t exactly crazy, most of the crazy action comes from their FOOLPROOF PLANS.

FOOLPROOF PLANS, like LITERALLY and OUTSTANDING – among other oft-used words exclamations – are in caps throughout the book, creating wonderful childlike emphases akin to Charlie and Lola. Although it’s way, way funnier (sorry Charlie and Lola). The narration skips along with ease and the dialogue will have you in stitches: the excitable kids spouting their absurd logic is an utter delight; Mrs Bottomly-Blunt’s bursts of outrage are an absolute treat; and timorous Mr Nidgett as he tries to wrangle his class into shape – precious.

Although this book is aimed at the lower end of Middle Grade (I’d say 6+), I’d suggest it as a go-to for any kid up to age 11 who fancies a cosy, light read and a very big laugh.

Inside, there’s definitely daftness and tomfoolery (which immediately breaks school rules), but there’s also the comfort of simple stories and recognisable playground scenarios. And, while Class 4B’s humour is very much out there on its own, there’s also a delightful little introduction to Monty Python for beginners.

Illustrated throughout, Rikin Parekh’s depictions of the characters and the chaos is absolutely perfect. They are sketchy and full of movement, and the facial expressions wickedly comic. There’s lots of other stuff for kids to get their eyes into, too, such as character intros, funny lists, silly questions and extra pictures. For a little book, it makes a big impression.

Class 4B doesn’t often win prizes, but for me, The Worst Class in the World comes top for comedy.

Reviewer: Rachel

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Full disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.

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