Ducoboo is not the sharpest kid in the class to the extent that he’s almost entirely and blissfully unaware of his failings. Fortunately he sits next to Leonie, the class genius, so there’s opportunity to copy her answers and display, ironically, what a creative thinker he can be when he puts his mind to it. Ducoboo may well wear the stripy jumper of trouble worn by such classroom miscreants as Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx, but he doesn’t seek trouble – it just tends to find him.
Trying to instil some knowledge into Ducoboo’s noggin is Mr Latouche, and when exasperation prevails Ducoboo finds himself sat in the corner with the class biology skeleton, Skelly, with a dunce cap upon his head.
By and large these are single-page exploits, not dissimilar to those you’d find in the likes of the Beano, but collected here into a single album, the fifth of its kind. In this volume we get to see what it’s like when the cleaner takes over from Mr Latouche, meet some of Skelly’s family as they pay a visit to the class (a surreal adventure compared to the others), and see Ducoboo’s softer side as he unwittingly reveals his true thoughts about Leonie.
Ducoboo isn’t about causing grief and mischief, but it is about the day-to-day struggles of a boy attempting to keep up with the class. This is partly down to laziness and partly down to inability, so perhaps Ducoboo is more relatable than some other children’s cartoon characters. There’s a hint of Peppermint Patty about him, and like her he still has a dogged determination that the reader warms to. For me the double-page spread Christmas tale, about a second Father Christmas called Santer Claws, is the star of the book. Sporting a twin-bobbled hat that reflects Ducoboos dunce cap, Santer Claws rewards personality and the effort put in that perhaps a test won’t pick up on. Slightly incompetent and ramshackle, with a sleigh pulled by two donkeys, I thought this had legs for further use.
Well written and illustrated, this is a book any child can relate to, with lots of humour to put a smile on their faces. If you’re looking to introduce your child to proper comics and cartooning (not the ones that come in bags full of adverts and plastic ‘gifts’) then this is a good place to start.
And if you liked that: Your child may also enjoy Billy & Buddy and Yakari, also available from Cinebook.com