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Ordinary Jack (The Bagthorpe Saga, #1)
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Ordinary Jack (The Bagthorpe Saga #1)

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  468 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Everybody in Jack's family seems to be brilliant - apart from Jack and his downtrodden dog Zero. Even his little sister can beat him at swimming. But Jack's uncle Parker has come up with a plan to make him and Zero shine: they'll pretend that Jack can tell the future! If only they could foresee what chaos the plan will cause . . . Helen Cresswell is the much-loved writer o ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published March 3rd 2005 by OUP Oxford (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 950)
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For the life of me I can't remember exactly how the Bagthorpes entered my life. It must have been a random grab off my local library shelf, because I've never heard of them referenced or mentioned in the years since (but then, it's my impression that its prolific author, Helen Cresswell, has never really had much of a presence on this side of the Atlantic). All I know is that at a certain time in my life—that is, that awful moment just before entering middle school—I read this series obsessively ...more
Oct 04, 2011 Valerie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman, english, humour
It's interesting to read children books when you are an adult, you can see that the difference between children and adults is in the treatment of the writing, the feelings and descriptions are secondary while humour and action are the main style! I wanted to read some of the bagthorpes' books because they inspired the Royal Tennembaum, and I quite enjoy readint it!
Alfreda Morrissey
Jul 02, 2015 Alfreda Morrissey rated it it was amazing
This was a light funny book enjoyable by children and adults alike. She seems to take inspiration from Roald Dahl as a lot of the characters are a bit boastful and spoiled; however, in this book even the 'bad' characters have redeeming characters. By the end of the book I was even fond of Jack's boastful family; whereas in Charlie and the Chocolate factory, the children were really hateful. It has some of the same feel in that poor old Jack is poor in skills and the other characters have several ...more
Mark Rigney
May 26, 2015 Mark Rigney rated it it was amazing
I discovered this book, the first in the expansive Bagthorpe Saga, somewhere around fifth grade. I thought it was funny then, and I think it's funny now. So do my kids: I read it aloud to my older boy about four years ago, and am now reading it to my youngest. Guess what? The older boy, now about to turn fifteen, has been sitting in, and laughs his head off.

Serious literature?


Caustic, witty, sly, and full of spot-on large family dynamics?


Cresswell's style involves endless modifying cl
Mar 25, 2016 Mika rated it it was amazing
One of those books that you'll read as a child.
And remember!
All in all, one of my favourites.
You've read the review? Go on, read the book.
Jennifer Heise
Sep 17, 2014 Jennifer Heise rated it it was amazing
Poor Jack. In a family of (eccentric) overachievers, he's the average one, no 'strings to his bow.' In an effort to impress his family, he enlists his dog and his uncle in a scheme to demonstrate his psychic powers, which, of course, this being the Bagthorpes, goes awry with hilarious results.

Even as an adult, I find myself reflecting on Jack Bagthorpe's experiences when I've had a particularly difficult day at work and need to lighten up.. Cresswell's characters and their exploits never fade,
The Bagthorpe Saga comprises ten books (though the tenth is terribly hard to find), beginning with this one, Ordinary Jack. They are a chronicle of the adventures of the eccentric Bagthorpe family: Mr. Bagthorpe, an irritable, paranoid scriptwriter; Mrs. Bagthorpe, juvenile magistrate and problem solver; their four children, William, Tess, Jack, and Rosie, all except Jack multi-talented; Grandma, the trouble-making matriarch of the clan; Aunt Celia and Uncle Parker and their four-year-old daught ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Trish rated it really liked it
A very funny and enjoyable read. Sort of P. G. Woodhouse for kids! It would make a very hilarious read aloud story, as parents could explain some of the English details American kids would not understand.
Recommended for the Logos Library - third to high school - the older the child the more they will enjoy it. Dedicated to all those people who feel very average and ordinary, especially as children.
Nov 16, 2014 Connie rated it it was amazing
This was one of our family's favorite books to read aloud on long car trips when our (now gown up) children were younger. It was fun to see how it still holds up-- I laughed out loud a number of times! Now to see if I can track down the rest of the series again, since they now seem to be out of print....
Rob Keeley
Aug 09, 2016 Rob Keeley rated it really liked it
Just found and revisited this childhood favourite. Still delivers the laughs. When it starts with a family birthday party being set on fire, you know what you're in for. The emphasis hasn't yet moved from Jack onto the whole family, but it's still a great start to a classic series.
Jul 15, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
I love these books! Jack wants to be multi-talented, like his boastful siblings, and his uncle, who gets a bit fed up with the whole family (except his poetic wife and his eccentric daughter), decides to help.
Siraj Shaikh
Mar 07, 2015 Siraj Shaikh marked it as to-read
It might not be too profound, but I got hooked immediately. And apparently I'm not the only one. All in all, this was one of the most entertaining books that I've read.
Feb 10, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it
Cute. Read via podcast (Kayray reads to you) over an extended period of time (starting last year). Amusing enough to warrant looking into the rest of the series.
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Jul 14, 2015 Cindy Dyson Eitelman rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I don’t know how this book got on my must-read list, why it stayed on there, and why I decided it was important enough to buy a used copy through Amazon’s booksellers. I can only hope my 1-cent purchase benefited some charity.

I’m sure it had its place, its time and its audience, long ago. It might have been one of those “reluctant reader” books that librarians love to recommend. Let me just say that there are many kids’ books that survive the test of time. Or will survive, like Saffy’s Angel. Pr
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 12, 2016 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-1001
I fell in love with all the characters in this book, the members of the crazy Bagthorpe family. The story centers on Jack, who feels too ordinary in comparison to his siblings and parents, all of whom have many Strings in their Bow. His wacky Uncle Parker dreams up a scheme to make the family think Jack has prophetic powers. The scheme works quite well, actually, with prophecies fulfilled about Lavender Men and Brown Bears. All the while the dad breaks his arm trying to stand on his head and the ...more
Aug 04, 2015 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review to come.
Aug 11, 2011 Charlotte rated it really liked it
'Ordinary Jack' is a fun story ment to be read on a lazy summer day.

Young Jack feels out of place among his talanted and excentric family. An understanding Uncle takes jack under his wing to pull off a series of fun pranks that bring out the hilarity and disfunction in the family dynamic.

I found the family to be reminicent of 'The Royal Tenembaums'.

Originally published in 1977 and set in England- the story translates to modernity well. I see why it is on the list of 1001 books you must read b
Mar 10, 2008 Grillables rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, fiction
The Bagthorpes had been recommended to me from a number of different sources, so I'm finally giving them a go. So far: thumbs up! Good old-fashioned British fun with this wacky family. I expect I would have given this book more stars if I'd read this when I was younger, but it's still a good book when read at [redacted]. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
Coco Schmoco
Nov 02, 2007 Coco Schmoco rated it really liked it
Shelves: childhood
Man oh man, I freaking loved all of the books in this series when I was in middle school. Granted, I think the reason my sister started reading them was because our last name is almost the same as Cresswell's, but the whole family was so freaking insane and funny and out-of-control in the best, most misanthropic way possible. Genius!
Jul 09, 2009 Lea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lol, animals
This book is for anyone who likes British comedies or "dysfunctional family" stories. The Bagthorpes are a huge British family, and each member is extraordinarily talented or weird. Except Jack, who is normal and hates it. Excellent book in a great old series, these books make me laugh every time I re-read them! XD
Jun 25, 2007 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
As a relatively normal third child of four in a family of rather extraordinary people, I definitely identified with Jack.

Cresswell really has a handle on characters, and writes them to the point of almost absurd, without crossing over. Funny, ridiculous, and endlessly entertaining.
I love these so much. I've read the first four all four times each, including aloud to my daughter. it seemed to be a lesser known series in the US, which is too bad. the language is pretty sophisticated and the books are HILARIOUS. the characters are fantastic.
Jul 29, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it
First in the Bagthorpe Saga series. Jack is frustrated by his ultra-talented and boastful siblings. Prompted by his sympathetic uncle he embarks on a new career... calamities ensure, as is the norm in the chaotic Bagthorpe household. Fast-paced and well-written.
Aug 09, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
First of the Bagthorpe Saga. Quite funny. Gifted eccentric famiily, very large brood. one child has no particular genius tries to find his talent.
I will look forward to the rest of the series. Thank you Ginny Gustin for introducing me.
Aug 12, 2007 Jrobertus rated it really liked it
You gotta love the Bagthorpes. This hyper competitive English family has many hilarious adventures. The stories, although often silly, have a measure of everyman in them and the foibles are also presented with wit and good nature.
Edward Davies
Mar 01, 2015 Edward Davies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helen Cresswell's highly disfunctional Bagthorpe family are fun to read, as untalented child Jack tries to prove to his family that he is as good as teh rest of them by pretending he has psychic powers.
Solveig Haugland
Mar 21, 2008 Solveig Haugland rated it it was amazing
This series is one of the series I check out from the library every time I go home and read. Oh my god. Hilarious for everyone. Could start kids at age 7 or 8, gets funnier as you get older.
Jun 20, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it
Kind of fun, a couple of outrageous laugh-out-loud scenes. A pretty decent kid has to deal with a self-proclaimed brilliant family (meaning they're all self-absorbed attention-seekers).
Jun 04, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it
One of my favorite books as a kid, and one I thoroughly enjoyed as an adult, reading it to my daughter at bedtime.
Aug 22, 2008 Dixie rated it really liked it
This series starts out kind of slowly - this is my least favorite - but picks up and becomes hilarious fun.
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large, nutty, self-absorbed families 1 11 May 05, 2008 09:21AM  
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Other Books in the Series

The Bagthorpe Saga (10 books)
  • Absolute Zero: Being the Second Part of the Bagthorpe Saga (The Bagthorpe Saga, #2)
  • Bagthorpes Unlimited: Being the Third Part of the Bagthorpe Saga (The Bagthorpe Saga, #3)
  • Bagthorpes V. the World: Being the Fourth Part of the Bagthorpe Saga (The Bagthorpe Saga, #4)
  • Bagthorpes Abroad: Being the Fifth Part of the Bagthorpe Saga (The Bagthorpe Saga, #5)
  • Bagthorpes Haunted: Being the 6th Part of the Bagthorpe Saga (The Bagthorpe Saga, #6)
  • Bagthorpes Liberated: Being the 7th Part of the Bagthorpe Saga (The Bagthorpe Saga, #7)
  • The Bagthorpe Triangle (The Bagthorpe Saga, #8)
  • Bagthorpes Besieged (The Bagthorpe Saga, #9)
  • Bagthorpes Battered (The Bagthorpe Saga #10)

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