The Tapper Twins Tear up New York by Geoff Rodkey

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The Tapper Twins Tear up New York by Geoff Rodkey

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A first sequel for this inventively presented series shows just how hyperactive and yet sensible books for this audience can be.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781444015010

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If you didn't last time, meet the Tapper Twins, Claudia and Reese. They're in sixth grade at a posh New York City school, and are just trying to get on with things – while making no attempt whatsoever at getting on with each other. This time round, Claudia was instantly sniffy at her brother's idea declared to her on a school bus, just because it was his, but soon realised how great it could be – to host a school charity treasure hunt for gangs of four fellow pupils. With a great prize on offer she bows down from organising it and takes part, against her brother and everyone else – and that's when the problems start. It's not as frightening as the tabloids make out, she assures us – but let's face it, there's high drama, celebrity, greed, urgency – and those pesky adults, all making the smooth running of things most unlikely…

One way to go about this book is to say what it is not. For one, even though it's a sequel, it's not at all concerned about the first book having happened. There are no flashbacks to it, or explanations for things, even when something as blatant as the presentation and style are concerned – and here, the presentation and style are most blatant. Once again we read a transcript of Claudia's smart phone voice recording app, so the thing is fully typed up and ascribed as in a stage or movie script, complete with her own, added-later, red-ink style marginalia. Relevant images get stuck in, as do screen-grabs of their parents' text conversations. So there's no set-up about the nature of the school, and none about those parents both being run-off-their-feet, stuck-at-work-and-ignoring-the-children types – instead everything becomes easily evident.

Another thing it's not is complex. This is very much a quick, disposable episode inasmuch as future books (and a third is scheduled for April 2016) will probably not show any effect from what happens on these pages. It's a tiny episode in the life of these two children, and the timeline for the book speeds through the set-up and concentrates in great detail on the few short hours of the city-wide escapade. But where so many series and franchises for this target audience have, say, a whole school term covered in the first book, then a few weeks, then down to just a few days, and get considerably more lightweight as they go, here that's not a problem whatsoever. It's not an issue here that I can say it's not complex. It doesn't need to be, when you have a split narrative – both teams' activities conveyed through the multiple voices of the narrators – and most relevantly, a great, concise deadline to rush towards.

I guess, on reflection, a tiny bit of the audience may find this complex enough, what with having to keep tabs of not only quite a few characters but quite a few narrative voices, and the many interjections and asides. I found this was perfectly balanced, however, meaning that however busy the characters get running pell mell around a big city in search of certain bottle tops, fast foods or souvenirs, and however kinetic and busy the page looks, the book provides for a great, strong, and very amusing story. There's no lack of detail to the plot, however short the episode, there's a good subtlety where allowed as regards the parents' and children's attitudes to each other, and there's just great fun for everyone – to the extent that you really want to jump on board with such a treasure hunt and have a secondary dose of pleasure by taking part. If one item to be sought is a great, energetic and amusing read for the upper end of the primary school audience, I know just where to lay my hands on one…

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie by Jeff Norton is surely going to launch a great series for the same audience.

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