Wednesday 1 November 2023

The Swivel-Eyed Ogre-Thing - Barry Hutchison and Chris Mould - Benjamin Blank Book 2

The Swivel-Eyed Ogre-Thing
Benjamin Blank Book 2
Chris Mould (Illustrator)
ISBN 9780857633064
eISBN 9780857633071

Last year before reading this book and series I encountered the works of J.D. Kirk I also discovered that Kirk publishes children’s books as Barry Hutchison, and other adult fiction as Barry J. Hutchison. I have read 23 stories published under the Kirk name and I am now branching out to the ones under the Hutchinson names and have read another 17 under those names. He is over 200 books across the three pen names, according to his website. But I have been unable to find a complete list. This is the eleventh under the name Barry Hutchison. If I had known that or I might not have picked up this first one. Friends call me a ‘completionist’ in that when I find an author I like, I try to read everything they have published. I have enjoyed all I have read from his pen and this one was no different.

The description of this novel is:

“In an alternate 15th century, where dragons roam, sailing ships transform into submarines, and blacksmiths build steampunk robots, ten-year-old orphan Benjamin Blank battles monsters, rescues maidens and discovers fantastic new lands, but never quite manages to get his homework handed in on time. Each adventure sees Ben and his friends, Paradise Little and Wesley Chant, face a new monstrous menace.”

This is a good early chapter book or middle grade read. It is recommended for readers 7-9 years of age but I could see readers who are reluctant readers or who struggle with reading enjoying it up to ages 12 or 13. There are numerous illustrations by Chris Mould done in a pen and ink style. The illustrations add to the story, and are often as humorous as the words by Hutchison. Our main cast of characters include:

Benjamin Blank
Paradise Little
Uncle Tavish
The Mayor of Loosh
Wesley Chant
Scumbo the troll
The Swivel-Eyed Ogre-Thing
The Ogre-Thing’s Master
Mayor of Loosh

And in a minor role’s numerous captured trolls.

The story begins with these words:

“Benjamin Blank had just scoffed down a Lump Hog sandwich for supper and was halfway up the stairs to bed when the screaming started. It shrieked from somewhere just outside the house, shaking the shuttered windows and squealing in through the gaps in the old stone walls.

Ben spun on the spot, his eyes wide, his ears practically twitching with excitement. Screaming usually meant only one thing – adventure!

In the room below, Ben’s uncle Tavish took a break from loading the supper plates into his latest invention – a heavy iron and brass cube he called the Automated Plate and Cup Washing Device – and shot Ben a stern look.”

This story is an adventure or quest. Wesley and Bengamin are now friends and living in the same town. The story opens with a rampaging goat and things get stranger from there. A troll shows up thanking the trio for saving his life and asking for help finding all the other missing trolls. And so the adventure begins.. 

The story was another fun read. As is often the case with Hutchison’s writings for young readers it has humorous characters, intense action, and just a little bit of fart humour. It is a story young readers would love, especially reluctant readers. The style reminds me a lot of the works of Dan Gutman, Tony Abbot, Andrew Clements, and Chris d'Lacey. It was an entertaining read and I look forward to the final book in this trilogy and exploring more books for younger readers under the pen name of Barry Hutchinson.  

Books by J.D. Kirk:

DCI Logan Series:

Robert Hoon Thrillers:

DI Heather Filson Series:

Contributed to:
Everyday Kindness: A Collection of Uplifting Tales to Brighten Your Day

Books as Barry J. Hutchison:
Dan Deadman Space Detective Series:

Space Team Series:
The Search for Splurt 
Song of the Space Siren 
The Guns of Nana Joan 
Return of the Dead Guy 
Planet of the Japes 
The Time Titan of Tomorrow 
The King of Space Must Die 
Sting of the Mustard Mines 
Sentienced to Death
The Hunt for Reduk Topa
A Lot of Weird Space Shizz: Collected Short Stories

Sidekicks Initiative Series:

The Bug Books Series:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Complete Season One

Other Books:

Children’s books as Barry Hutchison:
Invisible Fiends Series:
The Crowmaster 
Doc Mortis 
The Beast 
The Darkest Corners 

The Missing Remote of the Apocalypse
The Book of Doom 

Benjamin Blank Series:

Beaky Malone Series:

Generator Rex Series:

Living Ted Series:
Revenge of the Living Ted
Invasion of the Living Ted

Spectre Collectors Series:
Too Ghoul for School
A New York Nightmare!

Other works:

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