Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon By Ivan Brett Published by HarperCollins ISBN 978 000741559 It's refreshing when a book comes along with the sole purpose of making you laugh. In Ivan Brett's first Casper Candlewacks story, a teen hero is surrounded by infectious silliness. He is a sensible fellow trying to get some order and sense in his zany world. He lives in a village where people don't act sensibly. In fact, Casper's village, Corne-on-the-Kobb, is full of village idiots. That makes life particularly difficult for our hero. Brett's set-up for Death by Pigeon is simple but effective. Young Casper is a fish out of water in a mad world. This gives the author ample scope for piling on the madness and coming up with eccentric characters we find highly amusing. It will make you thankful it's Casper and not you that has to put up with such inanity. Casper is bullied at school by both students and teachers. They see him as abnormal just because he can spell and read sentences with more than three words in them. His teacher, Mrs Snagg, is a comically unpleasant character worthy of the great Roald Dahl. Casper's only friend is Lamp - so called because he is obsessed with inventing inane things. One day a visiting magician curses Corne-on-the-Kobb with a series of outlandish disasters. Casper's father is blamed and sentenced to death by pigeon. Casper has to prove his father innocent and get the magician to remove the curse. Cue chaos!