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A Near Thing for Captain Najork (Children's book, 1975)

Captain Najork has never quite got over the time that Tom beat him and his Hired Sportsmen at womble, muck and sneedball, so when he sees Tom hurtle past his window in a two-seater jam-powered frog, he sets off in hot pursuit. The adventures that follow at a nearby girls' boarding school, involving the Headmistress and Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong Najork, result in a very near thing indeed for the Captain . . .

Type of work: 
Children's book
Year of first publication: 
Original publisher: 
Jonathan Cape
Age range: 
Young children
Illustrations by: 
Quentin Blake

Review quotes: 

"The partnership between author and illustrator is almost perfect." The Times


"While fooling around, something he does with great authority, Tom invents a two-seater jam-powered frog in which he and his Aunt Bundlejoy Cosysweet fly off, only to be spotted by Captain Najork, who has never recovered from his sneedball defeat at the hands of Tom. Fidget Wonkham-Strong, Tom's aunt and the wife of Captain Najork, invades a nearby girls' school after swimming across the river and ends up in the Headmistress's study. Dripping all over her carpet, she challenges the Headmistress to the best of three in an arm-wrestling competition in the mistaken belief that she has hidden the Captain away. But the Captain is in his pedal-powered snake pursuing Tom to exact revenge for his previous humiliation. Of course Aunt Fidget wins the arm-wrestling, and Captain Najork is subdued by his wife into eating swede-and-mutton-slump while reflecting on the fact that he is lucky to have had such a narrow escape. The sequel to How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen, this tale is not quite as funny as its predecessor, but it's still exuberantly plotted with moments of sheer lunacy. Quentin Blake's illustrations are as brilliant as ever; the two-seater jam-powered frog in particular is a weird and wonderful thing to behold. Ages 5-7" Kirkus Review, UK

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