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Literature / Mr Gum

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The Mr Gum books are a series of children's books written by English author Andy Stanton, concerning suspicious goings-on in the (fictional) small town of Lamonic Bibber, with the chief antagonist being the eponymous Mr Gum, a sordid, red-bearded, middle-aged man with a fondness for doing evil, and the chief protagonist being an (almost) eternally cheerful nine-year-old girl named Polly. They contain large amounts of Surreal Humour, an almost manic degree of Lampshade Hanging and Leaning on the Fourth Wall, and a rich amount of verbal inventiveness, as well as an obvious debt to the work of Roald Dahl.

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As of 2015 there are nine Mr Gum books:

  • You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum! (2006)
  • Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire (2007)
  • Mr Gum and the Goblins (2007)
  • Mr Gum and the Power Crystals (2008)
  • Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear (2008)
  • What's for Dinner, Mr Gum? (2009)
  • Mr Gum and the Cherry Tree (2010)
  • Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout (2011)
  • Mr Gum and the Hound of Lamonic Bibber (2011)


The books provide examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Among the oddly named characters in the books, including Friday O'Leary, Jonathan Ripples, Martin Launderette and Billy William the Third, there's a sentient billionaire gingerbread man called ... Alan Taylor.
  • The Alcoholic: Old Granny, who is so fond of sherry that she has a bottle of sherry which has another, smaller bottle of sherry concealed within it.
  • Catchphrase: Friday O'Leary's cry of "The truth is a lemon meringue!"
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  • Genki Girl: Polly. Combined with Only Sane Man.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Lampshaded in 'Old Granny's Cardigan Adventure':
    One cold winter's day, Old Granny awoke in her big brass bed from before the War, had a little nip of sherry from the bottle she always kept by her bedside, and got up. She brushed her false teeth with her false toothbrush, and had a little sip of sherry from the bottle she kept in her bathroom cabinet from before the War. Then she went downstairs, had some cornflakes, and turned on her old TV from before the War. Actually, a lot things in Old Granny's house were from before the war, I think I'll stop mentioning that now.
  • I Am Very British: Averted. Everybody can be presumed to be English, but none of them sound posh, and Polly's mode of speech lurches inexplicably from one accent to another for comic effect: one minute she'll say "Blimey, you men is well ignorant", which is pure Cockney, but then she'll say something (incidentally lampshading the Unexplained Accent of other characters) which sounds like she's from a Western film: "Why's everyone a-talkin' all funny like in weird old books?"
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  • Lampshade Hanging: A large part of the books' humour comes from this. For example, when Polly tells a bunch of men to stop drinking in the pub and go home, they obey, saying 'OK, nine-year-old girl, you're the boss, for some reason.'
  • Mundane Made Awesome: ‘Old Granny’s Cardigan Adventure’, the special bonus story in ‘’Mr Gum and the Goblins’’, evokes this trope in-universe: Old Granny wakes up, has breakfast, phones her brother Old Danny in Australia, loses her cardigan and finds it three minutes later lying on the kitchen floor. She is so struck by this that she resolves to phone her brother again. The End. In the course of their conversation, it is revealed that Old Granny used to be in a punk band called Rancid Vomit, but this is considered less exciting than the fact that she loses her cardigan.
  • Only Sane Man: Polly, although she also has Genki Girl tendencies.
  • Overly Long Name: Polly's real name is not Polly, but Jammy Grammy Lammy F'Huppa F'Huppa Berlin Stereo Eo Eo Lebb C'Yepp Nermonica Le Straypek De Grespin De Crespin De Spespin De Vespin De Whoop De Loop De Brunkle Merry Christmas Lenoir. Her friends call her Polly, however.
  • Super Serum: Sherry is this for Old Granny. As long as she has some, she has (limited) magical powers. As soon as she runs out of sherry, she reverts to being an 'old wrinkler'.
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