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The Fall of Fergal
Cover of The Fall of Fergal
The Fall of Fergal
Unlikely Exploits Series, Book 1
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Philip Ardagh's Unlikely Exploits chart the extraordinary changes in fortune of the downtrodden McNally family beginning with THE FALL OF FERGAL. The setting is an unidentified country suffering from an unexpected breakout of large holes.

The McNally children find themselves in The Dell Hotel, the venue for the final of the Tap 'n' Type typing competition, surrounded by a strange assortment of characters ranging from Twinkle-Toes Tweedy, the house detective, to Mr. Peach, a ventriloquist with a very large moustache.

With young Fergal McNally falling to his death at the very beginning, the only way for the McNallys is up . . . .

Philip Ardagh's Unlikely Exploits chart the extraordinary changes in fortune of the downtrodden McNally family beginning with THE FALL OF FERGAL. The setting is an unidentified country suffering from an unexpected breakout of large holes.

The McNally children find themselves in The Dell Hotel, the venue for the final of the Tap 'n' Type typing competition, surrounded by a strange assortment of characters ranging from Twinkle-Toes Tweedy, the house detective, to Mr. Peach, a ventriloquist with a very large moustache.

With young Fergal McNally falling to his death at the very beginning, the only way for the McNallys is up . . . .

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    1
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  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    K - 2

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • When not writing silly books, Philip Ardagh is very serious indeed and frowns a great deal. He also sports a pair of those little round glasses brainy people often wear. His writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages, and his Eddie Dickens Trilogy books are bestsellers.
    Joe Barrett's 30 years as an actor includes appearances off Broadway in Reunion and on Broadway in Raggedy Ann. His television credits include The Conan O'Brien Show and The David Letterman Show. He has appeared in features films and has been seen in dozens of commercials.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine THE FALL OF FERGAL begins a new series by the always funny Ardagh. When LeFay McNally becomes a finalist in the Tap 'n' Type typing competition, she decides to take her family "to the capital" with her. Then the adventure begins because the family of four is so poor that they must sneak into LeFay's hotel room. Narrator Joe Barrett keeps listeners chuckling with a refreshing delivery that combines a melodious Irish accent with hilarious lines and asides. Also, Ardagh's delightful characters and witty word choices add a lively challenge, which Barrett brilliantly meets. The heavy and sometimes over-the-top accents are perfectly rendered--and always understandable. S.G.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 31, 2004
    This first in a planned trio of books called the Unlikely Exploits has more plot than Ardagh's Eddie Dickens Trilogy, but a bit less humor. The novel begins with Fergal McNally's catastrophic fall from the 14th floor of the Dell Hotel. Fergal's father, Captain Rufus McNally, a retired war hero who became "bitter, sick, and twisted" after losing his leg in a war injury, has an "excused parenting" note from his doctor and leaves the rearing of his children to eldest daughter Jackie. When his other daughter, Le Fay, becomes a finalist in a typing competition, Jackie decides to take all of the siblings by bus to go and cheer her on. Ardagh plants the usual twists and turns of plot, introducing a ventriloquist/poet named Hieronymous Peach, who befriends them on the bus trip and also figures prominently in the typing competition, and a house detective known as Twinkle-Toes Tweedy ("Stick around long enough and you'll find out why," the author/narrator says of the nickname); the detectives ties to Rufus McNally are revealed in the end. In addition to fun names and clever quips, the author plugs in often paragraph-long parenthetical asides (he writes of the word oxymoron
    , " may sound like an idiot with breathing difficulties but actually means something that contradicts itself"). The tragic event around which the novel revolves provides plenty of black comedy to keep readers entertained. Ages 8-up.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 12, 2004
    Barrett employs an Irish brogue to relate the Unlikely Exploits (the name of a proposed trilogy of tales) of the very unusual McNally family. Fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events will find much to like—and compare: dark humor, text passages that address the listener directly, asides pointing out vocabulary or plot points. But Barrett's simultaneously chipper and tongue-in-cheek approach matches the more silly than sinister air of Ardagh's (the Eddie Dickens trilogy) work. Listeners know right off they are in for a wild ride when young Fergal McNally falls 14 stories from a hotel room to his death in the opening lines of the story, replete with a funny description of said event. Of course, the circumstances that brought the McNallys to the Dell Hotel—a sibling is a finalist in the Tap 'n' Type typing contest—are already giggle-worthy, as are the secret powers/quirks of the other McNallys and the people they encounter. And the tragedy that, um, befalls Fergal provides the perfect segue into a sequel. Ages 8-up.

  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 2004
    Gr 4-6-In the opening moments of this first book in a new series by Philip Ardagh (Holt, 2004), young Fergal McNally falls to his death with a splat. From there, the narrator weaves a wickedly funny tale of the events leading up to Fergal's demise, throwing in asides involving such things as metaphors, mustaches, and morgues. The plot of the story revolves around the Tap 'n' Type competition in which Fergal's sister LeFay is a finalist. The McNallys are a poor family with an alcoholic father who has a note from the doctor excusing him from parenting. With no parental guidance and no money, the McNally children come up with a grand scheme in order to get to the posh Dell hotel where LeFay is staying during the competition. Along the way, they meet a delightful cast of characters including hotel detective Twinkle Toes Tweedy, the ventriloquist Mr. Peach, and the dastardly Graham Large. Reader Joe Barrett does a superb job of capturing every nuance of this quirky tale and creates a rich character in the narrator. Fans of Lemony Snicket will love this tale and eagerly await the sequels. A necessary purchase for any collection where quirky tales are in demand.-Veronica Schwartz, Des Plaines Public Library, IL

    Copyright 2004 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Unlikely Exploits Series, Book 1
Philip Ardagh
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