Illustratur: Frank Schembri
If you've ever come across me and my children during one of our regular trips to the local library, then the likelihood is that at some point you've heard me exclaim "ooh, I used to love reading this when I was young".
It is my badly disguised attempt at getting my children to read the same books I used to. You see, I find it is extremely difficult to resist the urge to sit down and start reading anything by the likes of Enid Blyton or any other author whose books I spent my childhood reading. And on those occasions that I do manage to convince them to borrow one of these books; the undeniable truth is that I'll read it before they have the chance to do so.
Occasionally, however, I end up wishing I hadn't done so. For, despite my fond memories of the stories, all too often I end up being slightly disappointed when I get to re-read them. What I find is that they don't stack up with my recollections; that the stories I found wonderful as a child aren't half as captivating as an adult.
So it was with some apprehension that I approached the latest book in the Mastru Gerfex series. Author Carmel G. Cauchi was one of my favourites with his various book series involving a number of unforgettable characters like Sardinellu, Betta Trumbetta and, of course, Mastru Gerfex. My worry was that my positive memories would be shattered.
Thankfully, I need not have worried. Of course, it is a book aimed at children but adults will still enjoy the humour that it contains. The main character is, obviously, Mastru Gerfex; a one-time headmaster who is now a pensioner with an incredible knack of getting into trouble. The joy of this book lies in seeing just what kind of problems he manages to get into - which in this book range from the breakage of his wife's new acquired mirror to an unfortunate incident involving snails - and, then, how he relies on his wit and intelligence to find a way out of each sticky situation.
What adds character to the stories is that, despite the hilarity, each one is completely believable: even if reality has to be somewhat stretched you can just imagine someone acting as Maxtru Gerfex does.
This latest book contains ten new stories in what is actually a great format for children as they can get through each one fairly quickly with the added benefit that each story is so interesting that they'll be eager to read the next one. As will any parents who get their hands on it (or, at least, that's what I did!).
- Paul Grech