Gr 3-6-Mr. Gum lives in a disgustingly filthy house where "he slept, scowled, and picked his nose and ate it." Even the bed isn't madeÄMr. Gum chucked "bits of wood on the floor and dumped a mattress on top." But his garden is the most beautiful in the town. Why? Some speculate that he likes to garden, but the real reason is the angry fairy who gives him "pan whacks" if the garden isn't perfect. Unfortunately for Mr. Gum, the neighborhood dog, Jake, frequently messes up the gardenÄcausing Mr. Gum too many whacks with the frying pan. So Mr. Gum leaves spoiled cow hearts laced with rat poison and sweetened with lemonade powder in the center of the lawn. Jake takes the bait, but is ultimately saved by nine-year-old Polly and some magic chocolate (a questionable remedy, since chocolate is dangerous to dogs). English author Andy Stanton provides flawless narration of his book (HarperCollins, 2008). His deadpan delivery and comic timing are perfect. With its quirky cast of characters and silly sense of humor, this story is a great choice for reluctant readers.-Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover, AL Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.