Thursday, 5 November 2009
September 2009, David Fickling Books
195 pages, Hardback
Yunaleska's recommended rating:♥♥♥♥♥
Titles that give a suggestion of an explosion get my vote. As does the bright orange, almost glow in the dark cover. I say almost because I'm writing this as the dusk is starting to fall, and while everything on the table looks a bit dull, the book stands out beside my laptop.
Something does indeed go boom (near the end). Several people, including a secondary character end up with sore heads/hands. There are spiders, of varying sizes in the book. And lots of humour.
After an incident involving a sandwich falling from a great height, Jim is concernced, thanks to his sister, that he might be getting kicked out of school and sent away to one where he'll be reformed. His best friend Charlie, ever supportive of Jim, suggests they plant a walkie-talkie in the staffroom. Everything goes to plan, neither get caught. However, they discover two of their teachers speaking a different language after everyone has gone.
At this point I thought 'spies!'. Jim and Charlie investigate further - although Charlie's investigation might equate to stalking. My poor stomach somersaulted as the duo sat in one teacher's loft when she entered the house. What they find in the loft is curious - although not have as interesting as being threatened by a mysterious person with flashing blue eyes.
Not ones to give up after a small threat involving a damaged table, Jim and Charlie continue their investigations, which lead them far away from home. It also bonds Jim with his older, rebellious sister. I like a girl who happily whacks the enemy on the head with a stick. (don't worry, they live. Unfortunately) I didn't like her choice in boyfriend - and neither does the rest of her family. He gets what he deserves too.
This humourous tale is enhanced by the entertaining chapter titles - e.g. chapter 6, captain chicken. Also the simple illustrations which divide up a chapter, usually corresponding to what happens within the story there. The aubergines made me hungry (and wanting aubergines).
All the characters are memorable - including Charlie's mother, a quick-tempered cook known to throw breadboards when angry, Jim's father who transforms into a gourmet chef, and the spiders who carry orange coloured toilet plungers.
I feel it important to note that this book has been in print before: as Mark explains in the foreword, it bore the title Gridzbi Spudvetch! which quite rightly makes zero sense unless you read the book. Boom! - well that title intrigues the imagination readily enough, and I think is selling more copies than the original.
Mark Haddon's website, full of humour found in his work, is here.
Like this? Try Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce