REVIEW: Stairway to Doom

I feel as though this is a big, fat cheat… but it’s a book and I read it so it is going on the list.

When I noticed the other day that I had read no authors with surnames that began with Q or U last year, I called up the Wikipedia page with an alphabetical list of authors (have you seen it? It’s huge!) and the first name to catch my eye under Q was Robert Quackenbush. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read an author called Quackenbush?

This author, who died in May 2021 aged 91, appears to have been an enormously prolific children’s author, writing more than 100 books during his career.

So I found him on Amazon and ordered Stairway to Doom which cost me the princely sum of £2.86.

I had presumed Quackenbush was a pen name – particularly as he is famous for his Miss Mallard detective books for children and the Henry the Duck series. Apparently, it isn’t, it is his real name – it’s a fabulous name – and he began his Henry the Duck series in 1974 when his son was born to try and counteract any teasing his son might receive because of his name. Genius.

Stairway to Doom is one of many Miss Mallard mysteries aimed at children aged between five and eight years old.

It’s fun, it has quirky illustrations and it took me about 15 minutes to read (which is why I feel it’s a bit of a cheat for my ‘let’s-read-200-books-this-year’ challenge).

Miss Mallard is a famous detective who is a duck. She is invited to Duckinbill Castle in Scotland for Great Aunt Abby’s will reading with many of her relatives. Legend says the castle is haunted by the ghost of Count Kisscula and then the cousins start disappearing…

What I really liked about the book was it’s typography. Throughout, there are words in bold type. If they are in bold and big, it indicates shouting, but if they are just in bold type they are either characters and you can look them up in the character list at the front or they are words youngsters may not have come across before, in which case they are defined in a list at the back. I like that. It’s simple but clever.

But most of all I love the fact that a guy called Quackenbush created a whole career for himself to prevent kids laughing at his son’s highly unusual surname and that I have ticked off the letter Q on my author’s list.

He sounds like someone I would have liked to have met.

2 responses to “REVIEW: Stairway to Doom”

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