Boom! by Mark Haddon

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Boom! by Mark Haddon
Buy Boom! from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Boom! from Amazon.com

Genre: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Wildly entertaining alien adventures in this early novel recently rewritten by Haddon. There's a Dahlesque feel about it all and jokes aplenty; this one has real appeal for primary school readers.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: September 2009
Publisher: David Fickling
ISBN: 0385616295

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Jim lives in a cramped flat with his unemployed and mildly depressed father, his go-getting businesswoman mother and his metalhead older sister. He likes cheese and jam sandwiches and spends quite a lot of time pondering the best cheese variety and jam flavour combination. Jim also likes his best friend Charlie. But the problem with Charlie is that he never knows when enough is enough and so he gets into all manner of scrapes.

Boom! is the story of the biggest scrape ever, in the history of Jim and Charlie, the world, and probably the universe too. And it all starts when they bug the staffroom at school and discover the teachers all speaking a secret language...

The book was first published as Gridzbi Spudvetch! way back in 1992, but has been given a heavy plot-hole edit and updating by Haddon for its new name and issue. It certainly feels fresh and I didn't feel as though I'd been handed an early effort dressed up simply for money-spinning as is, unhappily, often the case. What you get is a funny, pacy adventure that blends a fairly kitchen sink set of family dynamics with some utterly zany fantasy. The whole thing is pleasure to read and I think probably a pleasure to share by reading aloud too.

There's a big whiff of Roald Dahl anarchy about it, especially in the way the adults are all either awfully bad or bumblingly hopeless. The children save the day - just as children should. Jim and Charlie are hilarious, each providing a good foil for the other. Jim is reserved and anxious while Charlie is gung-ho and reckless but together they make a great team. It only needs the stick-wielding skills of older sister Becky, and these kids have it all under control without an adult in sight.

It's a cracking little story and I'd recommend it for shared reading particularly - ages five to fifty-five. A space spider called Britney? Genius!

My thanks to the nice people at David Fickling for sending the book.

If they like the look of Boom!, they might also enjoy George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl - the master at work. The Space Brigade and the Petrifying Problem with Princess Petronella by L M Moriarty is another crazy and fun read. I can't help but think The Day My Bum Went Psycho by Andy Griffiths is another one to put on the list.

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