Authors: A.F. Harrold
SOME THINGS PEOPLE SAID ABOUT THE FIZZLEBERT STUMP BOOKS
Wonderfully told, fabulously eccentric, and certain to leave everyone in the family wearing a broad smile.
â Jeremy Strong
â Primary Teacher
Walks a high-wire of daft ideas and deft storytelling, ringmastered by a narrator who intrudes on the action with hilariously incongruous asides. Top fun at the Big Top.
â Financial Times
One of the funniest books I've ever read!
â Amy, 10, Girl Talk
If you like funny, exciting and entertaining books, read about Fizzlebert Stump. The author keeps the reader gripped by the way he ends each chapter, making you want to read on to find out what happens next. Even my mum enjoyed this book and I had to keep telling her what was happening! Â
â Freya Hudson,Â 10, Â Lovereading4kids
For Simon Dunn
In which the hero is introduced and in which a predicament is outlined
Once upon a time there was a princess and there was a shoemaker and there was a puppy called Simon and there was an angry washerwoman with curlers in her hair and not one of them had anything to do with this book, so you can stop reading about them now. In fact I don't even know how they got in the first sentence. I turned my back for one
minute and there they were, knocking on the page like an unruly mob of characters with nothing better to do but cause trouble in the first paragraph of someone else's story. Ignore them. Ignore them all. Except the puppy, who's been well behaved, all things considered. If he keeps quiet while I get on with the rest of the book, I might let him make a surprise appearance in Chapter Seven. He's cute, don't you think? Lovely ears.
So, as I was saying before I started writing, there's a boy. He's about
tall and has hair that looks like
and has a pair of eyes on the front of his head the exact same colour as
. His name is Fizzlebert Stump, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone since it's on the front cover, and he lives in the circus. (Not
circus, to be accurate, just
circus, although it's the one he calls home, which makes it quite
in his mind.)
His dad's a strongman and his mum's a clown. One of them has a little waxed moustache and lifts enormous weights up above their head and the other has a red nose and pours
custard down their trousers. I'll leave it to you to decide which is which.
So, where was I? There's a boy called Fizzlebert, or Fizz for short, and he's lost in the forest and it's late at nightâ
I hadn't got that far?
Sorry, I got distracted thinking about the little puppy Simon, and his big eyes, and do you know what? I don't even like dogs. I prefer cats. (Some cats and dogs get on fine, of course, but usually they don't.
speaking, cats and dogs fight like sheep and wolves. And that said, what are wolves, if not just big, angry dogs? (Sheep, on the other hand, have nothing in common with cats, except that they both get excited by the sight of a ball of wool: the cat wants to play with it;
the sheep wants to see if it was someone she knew.) But that's enough of that.)
Here's where we've got to with the story: Fizzlebert is in the woods, it's late at night, it's dark, he's on his own and he's lost.
OK, that's the introduction done. I'm going to have a break now, look in the dictionary for some more words and get back to you in a minute with an explanation of how he came to be where he has come to be in the way in which he is there. Clear? Super.
In which a boy has a wee and in which a clown drives off
A travelling circus is the best sort of circus there is, because when you open the curtains of your caravan in the morning there's always a new view. (Admittedly, the new view looks pretty much the same as the old view, because the circus always parks upÂ in the town park and parks are usually flattish green places with
a few trees and a duck pond, but if you like green, trees, ponds and ducks, then why start complaining now?)
It was while the circus was travelling from one place to another that Fizz ended up in the predicament I mentioned earlier and which I'm trying (if you'd stop interrupting and asking questions) to tell you about.
It was late at night. Fizz was asleep in his bed. He'd done the straps up tight and put his earplugs in and was dozing snorily, but happily, dreaming of things I can't tell you about because I don't know what they were. He'd done the straps up because the circus was moving to a new pitch and he was trying to sleep. It was safest to strap in when you went to bed, just in case there were any sharp corners or sudden stops. As the old saying
had it, âBetter safe than bruised in a heap on theÂ floor.'
Fizz had woken up in the dark and noticed immediately that the caravan wasn't moving. He couldn't hear the hum of the engine of his mum's car either. He took his earplugs out and still couldn't hear it. They'd stopped.
Fizz unbuckled, got out of bed and snuck a peak through the curtains. He wondered if they'd reached their destination or if they'd just stopped
(which is a French phrase meaning âon route' but said with an accent (don't look at me weird, I don't know why people use it either, but they do)). There were trees, certainly, but he couldn't see a duck pond or the big flat open green grass of a park. He would've asked his mum or dad, but
they were in the car that pulled the caravan and he wasn't.
No problem. He just pulled his dressing gown on over his pyjamas, slipped his slippers on his feet, opened the front door, climbed down the steps and looked around.
They'd pulled over at the side of a road that sliced straight through a thick dark forest. It was summer still, but the night air was cool. Somewhere an owl hooted and the slow wind rattled high branches.
Inside the car his mum and dad were arguing over a map. He could see the light of a torch waving around and a giant piece of paper being folded and unfolded.
I already told you that Fizz's mum, Mrs Stump or The Fumbling Gloriosus (to give her her proper clown name), was a clown, but
what I didn't say was that she was responsible for driving the clown car between shows.
A clown car is smaller than a normal-sized car. In fact, it looks to be slightly smaller than a clown and part of the joke of a clown car is that the tallest clown in the circus climbs out of it, picks it up, puts it in under his or her arm and walks off. Fizz's mum wasn't the tallest clown, and fitted in fine, but his dad, remember, was the strongman, rippling with muscles and sporting a neat black waxed moustache. Although the moustache didn't take up an awful lot of room, his muscles were squeezed into the car in such a way that, had he been heavily tattooed, half the windows would have looked like television screens showing programmes about tattoos.
(A clown car only has a small engine and
is soon left behind by the rest of the circus, which is why they were still driving in the middle of the night, while everyone else had already arrived in their new park.)
Fizz tapped on the car window. Startled, his dad let out a high terrified wobbly yelp of a scream and leapt in his seat (or vice versa). His head burst out the top of the car, sending the sunroof flying through the air.
âOh, Fizz!' he said, when he'd got his breath back. âYou didn't half give me a fright.'
Fizz's mum climbed out of the car and, carrying the steering wheel, walked over to where the sunroof had landed, picked it up, tucked it under her arm and turned to faceÂ Fizz.
âFizz,' she said, âyou shouldn't be up at this time of night. You get back in the caravan.
Once your dad has agreed which way up the map goes we'll be off again. We wouldn't want to leave you behind, would we?'
âGoodness, no!' his dad agreed. âThat would be like the start of an adventure in one of those books you read. We don't want that, do we?'
âNo,' Fizz said, joining in, âI really wouldn't want to be stuck in these dark and forbidding woods all by myself, would I? That really would be like the opening scene of a bad novel.'
They all had a little laugh at this.
Once they'd stopped laughing Fizz's mum said, âWell, Fizz, go on. Back to bed.'
She made a motion with the sunroof to suggest movement and Fizz headed back towards the caravan.
Before he got there he had a sudden feeling.
He stopped walking and looked around.
His mum had pushed his dad's head back inside the car and had clipped the sunroof back in place. She was about to climb back in when she noticed that Fizz had stopped moving.
âWhat is it, darling?' she asked.
âI need a pee,' he said.
Inside the caravan was a little chemical toilet, shut away in a tiny toilet cubicle about the size of a very large shoebox. It smelt of lingering blue chemicals and despite everyone's efforts to keep it clean and tidy, it still wasn't anyone's favourite room in the world. It's one of the problems of living in a caravan, always moving around, this problem of plumbing. It was the one thing Fizz was jealous of when
he read about people who lived in houses that didn't move. They used a toilet, pulled the chain and everything was swept away, down pipes and along sewers and off to who-knew-where. But in a caravan you carried it all around with you until you got a chance to empty it out. Until then, everything you'd
sloshed around somewhere underneath you.