The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck by Jamie Rix

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The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck by Jamie Rix

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: Mildly amusing and sometimes gross: would probably appeal most to boys of about 8-11.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: April 2010
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1444001013

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Poor Alfie Pluck. He lives with his two aunts who are grotesquely disgusting, and who call him their Household Drudge. They reminded me of some of Roald Dahl's most appalling creations. Compared to Alfie's aunts, Harry Potter's Dursley relatives are warm and friendly. Alfie is decidedly down on luck.

The story opens when Alfie is 11 and sent out to earn money to buy food. He comes across a demonstration by a scientist who claims to have discovered a 'luck gene' and has bred it in a very special chicken. In a somewhat unlikely series of events, Alfie ends up with this chicken, which he cooks and eats. Now Alfie is, in theory, the luckiest boy in the world.

Naturally, the doctor wants his gene back, and the Prime Minister - who is having bad luck with a spaceship programme - would also like her share of luck. Alfie's aunts want him back as their slave since they can't even get out of the bath without his assistance. So the main part of the book is about Alfie repeatedly escaping from various people who want him, dead or alive. It's quite a clever ploy: the book is full of the most unlikely coincidences and last-minute rescues, but these are all explained by the good luck gene working to protect him.

Oh, and there's a three-legged dog called Bandit, who is Alfie's only friend in the first part of the book, and who is not quite what he seems.

There are some gory moments when Alfie is about to have his brain extracted, and when some of the villains of the piece get their just desserts. But the imagery isn't too vivid, and they would probably amuse most children - particularly, if I may be sexist for a moment - boys, of around eight to eleven. The book is fast-paced; Alfie goes from one excitement to another, never entirely sure who to trust, or whether the good luck gene really is working for him. While the majority of the characters are deliberate caricatures, mostly unpleasant, Alfie is a likeable child.

I certainly wouldn't describe this as the 'funniest book I've ever read" as the blurb on the front claims, nor 'hilarious', as is suggested on the back. The writing isn't in the realm of Roald Dahl's - the events are surreal rather than fantastic, the language unsubtle. However, it was mildly amusing in one or two places and is well worth borrowing - possibly buying - for a child in the appropriate age-group. It's not a short book - nearly 200 pages might daunt some newly confident readers, but it would work well read aloud too.

Thanks to the publishers for sending the book.

Anyone who enjoyed this would almost certainly love George's Marvellous Medicine, or anything else by Roald Dahl. We also enjoyed Boom! by Mark Haddon which reminded us of Dahl.

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Buy The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck by Jamie Rix at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck by Jamie Rix at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck by Jamie Rix at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck by Jamie Rix at Amazon.com.

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