The Boy with Two Heads by Andy Mulligan

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The Boy with Two Heads by Andy Mulligan

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Funny, leftfield and moving story about a little boy grieving after the death of his grandfather and learning to accept that nothing - including oneself - can ever be perfect.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: June 2013
Publisher: David Fickling
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0857560670

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Richard is a nice kid. Dutiful, hardworking, rule-abiding, he makes both parents and teachers proud. But one day, everything changes. Richard wakes up with a painful lump on his neck. Rushed to hospital, his parents get some devastating news from the specialists. Richard is growing a second head. Yowzer. When the head - Rikki - emerges, Richard, his parents, his teachers and his friends, all do their best to cope. But Rikki isn't like Richard. He's spiteful. He's angry. He's rude. He says the most unsayable things and he causes a great deal of trouble.

Why is Rikki like this? Why does he seem to want to sabotage Richard's entire life? Doctor Warren says he can help, but is he being honest about his true motives? And what does it all have to do with Richard's grandfather, who died of a heart attack almost a year before Rikki appeared?

Oh, aww. I really enjoyed this funny, sad and truthful fable.

There is a great deal of anger and pain in The Boy with Two Heads - but these harsh and frightening emotions are a necessary part of the grieving process. We grown ups know this. And we do try to explain it to our kids. But there is no explaining it. The only choice is to live it. And come out the other side, older and wiser. This is what Richard - and Rikki - must do. We all self-censor too, don't we? We tell white lies. We bite our lips. And it's not really as though this is a bad thing. We need to get along with others, after all. But we do need to be honest with ourselves. And we need to acknowledge our less-than-pure thoughts and feelings. This is the other lesson Richard needs to learn - and learn it he does, though Rikki, his completely uncensored alter ego.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Far from it. The Boy with Two Heads is really rather uplifting. Rikki is very, very funny, even when he's at his bitchiest, and the whole thing has a slightly surreal air that makes it feel quite safe to read. And Mulligan makes a great deal of friendship and the huge source of strength and support it can be.

Recommended. We also enjoyed Dog by Andy Mulligan.

I think they might also enjoy the beautiful The Savage by David Almond and Dave McKean, which also explores grief in a very moving way. Henry Tumour by Anthony McGowan also features an alternate personality and is about facing painful situations - but is for slightly older kids.

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Buy The Boy with Two Heads by Andy Mulligan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy with Two Heads by Andy Mulligan at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Boy with Two Heads by Andy Mulligan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Boy with Two Heads by Andy Mulligan at


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