Von Gobstopper's Arcade by Alexandra Adornetto

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HarperCollins, NSW, 2009. ISBN 9780732286637 Von Gobstopper's Arcade provides a satisfactory conclusion to the series The Strangest Adventures. Throughout the trilogy, the children Ernest Perriclof and Millipop Klompet battle against their evil enemy, Lord Aldor. This book sees the children excitedly venturing into the new arcade created by the master toymaker, Gustav Von Gobstopper, as part of a school excursion. On their tour, they discover a message left by one of the toys, leading them to remain behind and investigate. They are met and welcomed by the Resistance group, a small band of toys. Milli and Ernest are told of the Botchers, a group of surgeons employed to turn the toys into monstrous creatures due to be unleashed at Christmas, thereby ruining childhood for all of their recipients. Thus resumes the battle of good versus evil. The cover is reminiscent of David Cornish's hard cover titles in the Monster Blood Tattoo series and the text is somehow akin to Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. Although Drabville is a bit 'other worldly', it is still familiar enough for children to be able to relate to the setting. Aged only 16, Adornetto writes fluently and descriptively with an intended audience of pre-teens. The only concern could be that the language is somewhat wordy, thereby failing to engage intended readers. Jo Schenkel