Shoutykid (1) - How Harry Riddles Made a Mega-Amazing Zombie Movie by Simon Mayle
|Shoutykid (1) - How Harry Riddles Made a Mega-Amazing Zombie Movie by Simon Mayle|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: While the title of the first book in this series tries to define the character it doesn't go far enough in revealing the individual pleasures throughout. A very funny and breezy read with great formatting.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: June 2014|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Book|
Meet Harry Riddles – 10.3 years old, constant gamer, and more or less one of life's major losers. He's stuck in Cornwall with a sister he hates, a sister's boyfriend who shares his room with his smelly teenager feet, and a dad who's nothing more than a failed writer of movie screenplays. Perhaps Harry, the Shoutykid of the title, can call the shots himself, with his ideas of TV shows featuring a kid adopting a vegetarian baby zombie. Er – perhaps not. But he might get somewhere when he learns a lesson from his transatlantic cousin – to ask for help when it's needed. And so he does ask – he asks Sam Mendes, Harry Styles, the Queen… What could possibly go wrong?
I always suspected this book would have a quirky formatting for the reluctant reader. There was no other way it would cover four hundred whole pages with novel and expect to get any audience. And I was right – it does have a quirky formatting – and I hope that audience does appear, in huge numbers. The first chapter is fine – an email conversation, rather than a diary as I might have expected. It's teasing and engaging with the way Harry is put down by his cousin, building sympathy with great wit from the off. Chapter two highlights the spread of the book further, as it's the representation of an Internet forum chat page, and then – jaw drop moment one – Harry sends a letter to the Queen (fake postcode included just in case of copycats).
And so I'm left being Shoutyadult, saying that this book is brilliant. I didn't expect the injection of Henry Root's DNA into a kid's reportage novel to make for something so enjoyable. If you don't know the name Henry Root, he was the first (or certainly the first to get fame from it) author of spoof letters to the high and mighty, who would respond with the po-est of faces to what was clearly a send-up, and both sides of the correspondence would make for big selling books. The idea cycles round from time to time – The Timewaster Letters were huge more recently, although did the exact same thing minus having George Cole playing the character in an ITV sitcom.
Here endeth the lesson. But the fact remains that a lot of the spirit of this book is with the gullibility of Harry as he send his emails and letters off, in a fictional way as opposed to Henry Root – asking Dr Dre for some Beats by… speakers, asking to use Buck House as emergency accommodation when his dad's latest film script flops… It isn't all about these letters either – there's skateboarding embarrassments, there's a burgeoning first love, there's a school-based drama to make this seem like the male equivalent of Withering Tights by Louise Rennison – in fact there is four hundred whole pages of it, and although they’re practically the quickest four hundred pages one can get to read, what with a variety of large fonts and a low word-per-page count, they're more or less all spiffing.
Yes – spiffing, because the school involved in this book is a private one. Harry has Latin lessons. The fiscal cliff his parents are close to falling off comes several years too late, compared to people in real life, but who cares? It's just one more polish on the sheen, one more quirky little buff on the glory that is this book. It damn well deserves to be a series – I'll admit I was presumptuous in that little box-out top right to say it was book one of a cycle. But if it doesn't end up with a spread of equally brisk, lively, heart-warming and heart-felt sequels, I think I might just have to write someone a letter…
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
It has fewer zombies, and just about the same amount of shouting (ie very little) but Haunt by Curtis Jobling could well appeal to a similar audience.
You can read more book reviews or buy Shoutykid (1) - How Harry Riddles Made a Mega-Amazing Zombie Movie by Simon Mayle at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Shoutykid (1) - How Harry Riddles Made a Mega-Amazing Zombie Movie by Simon Mayle at Amazon.com.
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