The children of Ribblestrop beat Harry Potter big time when it comes to returning to school in an unorthodox manner. Forget about magical, flying cars. Think Airport, and Speed, and you are closer to understanding the start of summer term at Ribblestrop Towers. Why have only cars involved, when you can have planes and buses and helicopters as well?
You might need to have read the previous books for the beginning of the last Ribblestrop book to make sense. Not that Ribblestrop books are sensible. Sanchez is travelling back as befits someone with a lot of Colombian wealth behind them, and Millie and Miles are with him. They are in a small chartered plane… The only thing you need to wonder about is which one of them ends up flying it.
Meanwhile, the orphans are returning from their Easter holidays running a circus. Keep in mind those circus skills, while also remembering they are on a bus on the motorway. Sam and Oli and Ruskin are in Sam’s dad’s car. Same motorway. That’s about it, really.
Elsewhere, we have redundant librarian Ellie in her appropriated library van, looking for ancient stones. We also have two more schools near Ribblestrop, and we’ve got the crooked Cuthbertson brothers.
After the hilarious movie start, this books moves into ancient history, and so do the children and the whole school. They go back to living like their ancestors, as a forced-on-them project for the summer term. As with everything, they do it well.
They encounter the spirits of people from long ago. This is actually quite moving and profound, especially for the orphans who are closer to this kind of thinking. For a humourous book, Ribblestrop Forever is filled with sensible and sensitive thoughts on everything from library cuts, back to how people lived a very long time ago.
And it’s possible to live so still, if you try, without computers and cagoules, mobile phones or colour coordinated fleeces. And the bad guys can’t be allowed to win.
But I can’t believe this is the end of Ribblestrop.