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How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen (Captain Najork #1)
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How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen (Captain Najork #1)

4.6  ·  Rating Details ·  222 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Tom likes fooling around and is rather good at it, much to the annoyance of his Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong. So one day this fearsome lady decides to teach Tom a lesson and summons Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen to play womble, muck and sneedball. Can it possibly end well for all concerned?
Paperback, 32 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by David R. Godine (first published November 1st 1974)
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Jul 29, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing
The other day Alan Jacobs tweeted: Do yourself a favor & find a used copy of the best children's book EVER, Hoban's *How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen.*

Well, I didn't need to find a used copy, because my local public library has three take-outable copies, and I took one out, and of course read it in five minutes, and will go back and read it again. The Quentin Blake pictures add enormously to the delight of this book, in which a boy who fools around a lot manages to be the
Nov 07, 2009 paula rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
A gift from a friend, who when she brought it, said, "I know this is bringing coals to Newcastle..." for which use of that phrase I will always love her, if I didn't already, which I do.

Her daughter, who is four, adores this silly book. My kids do, too. And Russell Hoban is one of my favorite authors of all time. Not only did he write the Bedtime for Frances books, but he also wrote Riddley Walker, on my list of my favorite ten books of ALL TIME. That book is set in a postapocalyptic Britain, an
Oct 21, 2011 Miriam rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: kids who have trouble sitting still
Shelves: picture
The title is a pretty clear tip-off that the fooling-around little boy is going to triumph over the strict aunt and stuck-up Captain, but it is still a lot of fun to read. And in fact there is a happy ending for everyone!
Erin O'connor
Jun 28, 2014 Erin O'connor rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books from childhood this book extols the virtues of being relaxed, having fun and messing around. In it a little boy, Tom, is looked after by his very serious Aunt Figit Wonkamstrong. He likes to fool around and she disapproves. She sends off for Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen to come and teach Tom a lesson and they perform a number of fantastic competitions such as "womble, muck, sneedball". Tom beats them at every turn and it is delightful. At the end Tom runs away ...more
Feb 09, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it
"Tom liked to fool around. . . . He did low and muddy fooling around and he did high and wobbly fooling around." But "It looks very like playing to me," says his maiden Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong who wears an iron hat and takes no nonsense from anyone, and so she sends for Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen ("They play hard games and they play them jolly hard") to teach Tom a lesson. But even though it's Tom alone against everyone else, he just mucks and fools around and puts them all to sha ...more
El Ashfield
Nov 12, 2012 El Ashfield rated it it was amazing
This is potentially the best book I have ever read. I think I am actually in it. For anyone who has ever loved messing around with paperclips, and dropping things off bridges, and fishing them out again. This story is all about Tom, the rebel, and how he beats Captain Najork and his band of men at their own (rather different) games. Brilliant naming prevails during this book - particularly like the game called "Sneedball" and Tom's "Aunt Bundlejoy Cosysweet" - I think I have met her. Not for sti ...more
Micki James
Dec 28, 2012 Micki James rated it it was amazing
I've been looking for this book for years, based on a reference to it in The Norton Anthology of Children's Literature that it "colludes with the child reader against an adult world". I finally got a copy from Europe. When it came I was surprised it was so short; I had forgotten it was a children's picture book. My nine-year-old daughter read it first. I am afraid she stumped me on questions like "what are bloaters" and not until I read the book did I realize I am old enough now to be on the los ...more
Jul 27, 2007 Jrobertus rated it really liked it
My daughter Kate rated these two Captain Najork books and I think she is right to do so. Sure they are children's books, but I doubt the little blighters appreciate what's in front of them. (They only read at one level you know.) Tom versus the hired sportsmen is the better of the two and it is really hysterical. Although this is a very English book, Hoban is an American, and we should claim him as our very own genius of the absurd.
Aug 05, 2016 Sheherazahde rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
My sister Maria gave me this book for my 50th birthday. I'm not sure if that says something about me or something about her.

It's a cute little story about the benefits of "fooling around".

I like the illustrations.

I'm not sure what age children this is supposed to be for. It has a lot of words for a children's book. But it isn't a chapter book. If your child is too young to read it themselves you can read it to them.
Nov 03, 2009 Beckysue rated it it was amazing
This picture book is now part of our homeschool curriculum, and we actually reward our boys for fooling around. Besides that, the pictures are funny and we love the story. Just to let you know, last time I played Womble, at the end of the snetch I won by 3 ladders. Fooling around really pays off.
Illustrated by Quentin Blake (often seen in Roald Dahl’s books), this is my favorite for read-aloud or for readers just jumping into chapter books. Kids will cheer on Tom, a boy who is very good at fooling around, when his iron-hatted aunt calls fearsome Captain Najork and his hired men to teach him a lesson…especially when it turns out Tom is very good at sneedball and womble, too.
Apr 20, 2011 Eija rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
My four year old daughter loves this book. We read it daily.

Ridiculous story about a boy who excels at fooling around. Blake's illustrations are perfect at capturing the eccentric characters, the language is imaginative and wonderful. Incredibly fun book for anyone who appreciates mischief.
Mar 17, 2011 Alison rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A wonderful book, proving the joy and value of messing around aimlessly, especially if you have two horrible aunts. Tom's aunts hire Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen to put Tom to rights, but a boy who has spent his time getting up to mischief is more than a match for them. My year 3 class loved this book.
Jan 04, 2012 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book is as quirky and fun as the title suggests. Sadly, it is out-of-print and ridiculously expensive. I had the good fortune of finding it at a thrift store this week for $1. Any locals who would like to read it are welcome to borrow our copy.
Mar 18, 2008 Norah rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all-time favorite children's books. Who can resist the tomfoolery of this book's protagonist as he attempts to evade the watchful eye of his Aunt Fidget Wonkum Strong, who wears an iron hat, and the infamous Captain Najork?
Mar 15, 2013 Christina rated it really liked it
Recommended by Laura Pemberton. This is a book to make moms who are perhaps too fussy about danger and dirt reconsider! And it has plenty of nonsense (or perhaps supersense?) words to entertain such a creatively wordy family as ours.
Nat Walker
Nov 13, 2014 Nat Walker rated it it was amazing
Amazing balls. Quite seriously, if you've not read this book, go now, leave whatever it is you're doing to console yourself about the dullness of your own existence, find this book, and set yourself free... ^_^
Oct 13, 2007 Gentlyferal rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buy-this-book, kidlit
A priceless parable of self-education. Say, I'm going to be seeing my step-grandson at Christmas time...
Mar 02, 2008 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all children and adults.
Recommended to Marilyn by: Hillary Huefner
Shelves: childrens-books
This may be my favorite children's book of all time. The illurstrations are delightful and the names of the characters are absolutely charming.
Oct 10, 2007 GraceAnne rated it it was amazing
Probably our favorite picture book from my son's childhood, reissued in smaller format but with the same daffy illustrations.
So very glad it is back.
Aug 26, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-ya
Back at last, after so many years out of print! Too bad, though, that Godine saw fit to reissue it in a dinky format.

Justine Mae
Justine Mae rated it really liked it
Dec 07, 2013
Sadie rated it it was amazing
Apr 19, 2009
Tom Richards
Tom Richards rated it really liked it
Dec 13, 2014
Vinnie Tesla
Vinnie Tesla rated it it was amazing
Oct 13, 2010
Libby rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2016
Mike rated it it was amazing
Dec 23, 2013
Emma C
Emma C rated it really liked it
Sep 06, 2012
Miranda rated it it was amazing
Jan 08, 2008
Roger Pembery
Roger Pembery rated it really liked it
Aug 22, 2014
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