Literary Rap Battle: Abi Elphinstone vs Rachel Hamilton!

What do an exploding loo and magical bones have in common? You’re right – absolutely nothing. But Rachel Hamilton and Abi Elphinstone (aka Moontrug) have three very important things in common – and this is where bogs and bones come in:
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  1. They both write children’s books for 9-12 years
  2. They are both debut authors (Rachel’s The Case Of The Exploding Loo is out this month and Abi’s Oracle Bones comes out Spring 2015)
  3. They both share the same brilliantly awesome publisher, Simon & Schuster

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Rather than wade through a set of standard interview questions, we thought we’d Moontrug it up a little and bring you… a LITERARY RAP BATTLE – two authors going head-to-head in a series of increasingly bonkers questions. So, here goes:


Rachel, you are ten again. A vegetarian ogre (he only eats paper) is tearing through your house, devouring all your books. In a moment of rare reasonableness, he lets you keep one book. What would it have been back then?


Okay, so part of me wants to keep the biggest, heaviest book I own, to use for a spot of ogre-whacking. WALLOP! I remember, as a kid, being given this book called ‘The Art of Walt Disney’ that was so insanely HUGE I couldn’t even lift it until I was seven.

moon trug art of walt disney
But I’m a rubbish fighter and a bit of a coward so I’m going to leg it instead, along with one of my favourite books at that age – Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’.

I loved the idea that beneath the seemingly perfect surface of mothers, teachers and other mild-mannered, middle-aged ladies there lurked rash-covered, child-squelching, cadaverous old harpies. Even now, I’m slightly suspicious of sweet old ladies who wear gloves indoors and scratch their heads too often.


Roald Dahl was a genius, so let’s assume you’re braver than me, Abi, and you’ve stayed to fight the ogre. If you could conjure one of Roald Dahl’s characters out of thin air to fight the ogre alongside you, who would it be and why?


I’m going to conduct my Ogre Annihilation Operation using three of Roald Dahl’s characters (in-your-face-fickle-ogre) because I’m a teeny bit greedy, too:

  1. Conjure up Aunt Sponge from ‘James and the Giant Peach’ to plant her big fat bottom on top of the ogre to hold him steady
  2. Conjure up Miss Trunchbull from ‘Matilda’ to give the ogre several hard wallops with her hammer
  3. Conjure up the Fleshlumpeater giant from ‘The BFG’ to, um, eat the ogre’s lumpy bits

And while these shenanigans go on, I will be looking effortlessly cool on the sideline, sucking on one of Willy Wonka’s everlasting gobstoppers.

Back at you, Rachel: it turns out Aunt Sponge, Miss Trunchbull AND the Fleshlumpeater giant are on holiday and can’t come to fight the vegetarian ogre after all. Invent a word that will make the ogre disappear right away.


Ah, that’s a tricky one. This is your territory, Abi. I’m not as good as you are at word-invention. I prefer to steal words that already exist and mash them together. For example, in ‘The Case of the Exploding Loo’, Aunty Vera becomes the Vigil-Aunty because she pursues wrongdoers with her Handbag of Mass Destruction. Also, you’ve got Uncle Max chucking mantrums, and Dad doling out rubbish dadvice. So I’d probably just yell, “BaniSHED!” and magic-ify the ogre to a small hut at the bottom of the garden where all nasty, troublesome things are sent.


Um, Abi, speaking of homes and gardens, I hate to break it to you, but the ogre has left your house in a total mess. You’ve been told that rather than facing Operation Clean Up, you can up and leave to one fictional place. Where do you go?


Narnia – without a doubt. As a kid, I used to huddle by the fire with my siblings in Scotland and watch the BBC adaption on TV. Whenever I hear the theme tune now, I get magical shivers down my spine – and I can almost see Lucy edging through the wardrobe into the snowy woods beyond… Once in Narnia, I’d love to make snow angels with Mr Tumnus then, if the White Witch was snoozing, I’d skate around her palace shouting rude words at her nasty wolf guards. I’d also really love to have a milkshake with Aslan in Cair Paravel – that would be super cool.

Rachel, turns out Narnia is a bit of a trek so TFL (Transport for London) have given you an oyster card, enabling you to travel on ANY mode of transport you please. What do you go for?


Soooo easy. A TARDIS every time. But to mix things up a bit, I’d like one in the shape of a portaloo rather than a phone box. I wouldn’t have any objections if Tom Baker or David Tennant wanted to come along to make me laugh.

In fact, why not Tom Baker AND David Tennant. And while we’re on a greedy tip, Abi, when you arrive in Narnia, it’s time for a slap up meal. You can have any fictional treats you want. Yum. What’s on your menu?


So, I’d definitely have three courses – that portaloo tardis got my appetite up… For my starter, I’d have doci baci balls (little balls of crisped up bacon, wrapped in roasted doc leaves and sprinkled with vinegar – Moll’s favourite in ‘Oracle Bones’). After wolfing that down I’d cruise on into a massive bowl of Willy Wonka treats for my main course (yeah, there are no dentists or parents around to say no): five mouthfuls of chocolate rhododendrons, three chews of minty sugar grass, several humungous gulps from the chocolate waterfall, a mouthful of Has Beans, a slather of Hair Toffee and four licks of the Lickable Wallpaper For Nurseries. Pudding would be a bar of Xoco (from SF Said’s ‘Phoenix’) and I’d accompany the whole thing with a glass of Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink. After all of that I’d like a lie down – on Wonka’s Eatable Marshmallow Pillow, of course.


Phew! Last question goes to you Rachel: as a treat for writing such a fabby book, your publisher has organised a party for you. There’s karaoke. Which fictional character do you want to sing with and why? For bonus points, what would the theme song to your debut novel be?


The Cookie Monster. Pleeeeeeease let me sing with the Cookie Monster! We’d be brilliant together . . . ♫ “C is for COOKIE!”♪♫ Why? Well, partly because he is so wonderfully blue, fluffy and huggable. But mainly because together we would EAT ALL THE COOKIES! Also, if gives me the chance to show you my favourite thing on the internet, ever. Tom Hiddlestone and the Cookie Monster. Also known as ‘Tomnomnom.’ Hm, a theme tune for my book. It would have to be something over-excitable and slightly demented. Can I have the lovely impressionist, Max Dowler, being Alan Rickman, being The Sheriff of Nottingham, being Queen, singing ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’?  Haha. I hope so.


Ummmm, TIME OUT, TIME OUT! Before we spiral further into bookish absurdity, we’d better lock up the literary rap battle and leave you with a very exciting piece of news. Rachel Hamilton’s brilliantly funny The Case Of The Exploding Loo is in bookshops NOW! Twelve-year-old Noelle (Know-All) Hawkins may be one of the brightest girls in her class but even she can’t explain how her dad, wacky scientist Big Brain Brian, spontaneously combusted while sitting in a portaloo. She needs your help…

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