What’s it all about?:
Dinah moves in with the Hunter family and starts going to the same school as her foster-brothers Lloyd and Harvey. It’s not easy, as they seem to hate her, and school is really strange. Pupils suddenly talk like robots and do weird things – even Dinah finds herself acting oddly.
She’s sure the headmaster has some kind of power over them, and is determined to find out more. But the Demon Headmaster is equally determined to stop her.
What did I think?:
For the first book in our Kid-Lit challenge for 2016, we wanted to pick quite a special book to both of us and in the end, we decided to go for The Demon Headmaster. This was one of my personal favourite books from childhood and I also used to read it to Chrissi when we were kids (one of the many I read to her!). Again, I was slightly worried about reading this book as an adult and although I didn’t love it as much the second time around I still believe it’s a wonderful piece of children’s fiction that can be enjoyed today. I really wanted to find the cover that I originally had in the 90’s but it unfortunately wasn’t on GoodReads – I wonder if anyone knows the one I’m talking about, it’s quite eerie with a picture of the headmaster on the cover leaning over a desk with (quite literally) hypnotic green eyes? Perhaps that’s the reason it’s not about any more, it was VERY creepy. Ah, look – I just found it!
Our main character and heroine is Dinah Glass, an orphan who is adopted by the Hunter family after she has been in a children’s home for ten years. The Hunters already have two boys, Lloyd and Harvey, who are not exactly thrilled that Dinah is joining their family and going to their school. You see their school is a very strange place where the the children are silent at all times and “play-time,” consists of groups of children in a huddle reciting times-tables, Kings and Queens of England and capital cities. The boys are worried that Dinah will be just like THEM and then they will never find out what exactly goes on in the special assemblies every afternoon that they and just a few other of their friends are never invited to.
Dinah herself soon realises that there is something odd about the children’s behaviour at this school and when she meets the Headmaster, things start to slot into place. The last thing she remembers is the Headmaster taking off his glasses and then, next thing she knows, she is being woken up by him and told that she has slept away the entire morning. Stranger still is the little needle-prick she appears to have on one of her fingers. At the assembly that afternoon, Dinah decides she is going to rebel and when the Headmaster takes off his glasses, she closes her eyes. What happens next shocks her to her core and although Lloyd and Harvey are still suspicious of her, they let her join their special group, nicknamed SPLAT to try and protect themselves against the Headmaster and all of THEM who are influenced by him. As they attempt to investigate the goings-on at the school they have to tread carefully – the Headmaster’s punishments know no bounds and he has an evil plan afoot which they must try to stop, not only for the good of the school..but for the world.
The Demon Headmaster has everything a classic work of children’s literature should offer. There’s adventure, mystery, thrills galore where we wonder if the baddie is ever going to get his come-uppance, and there’s even a bit of terror, which I often loved as a younger teenager! I remembered why I loved this book as soon as I started reading, especially with the gems Lloyd came out with: “Purple pancakes! Scarlet sausages!” which really made me smile. Gillian Cross has a real talent for telling a story that will capture your attention while writing characters that will instantly steal your heart. The follow-up to this book, The Prime Minister’s Brain is also brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed re-visiting this series again.
For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please visit her blog HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
Next up in Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2016 – Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden.