Astronerds (Frightful Families) by Sue Mongredien and Teresa Murfin

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Astronerds (Frightful Families) by Sue Mongredien and Teresa Murfin

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A great look at life in an annoying family of astronauts. It's wonderful for reluctant or newly confident readers. The hero, Buzz Burton, is someone all children will be able to identify with.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: August 2006
Publisher: Orchard
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1843628033

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Buzz's parents are astronauts, who are heading off to Venus in a few weeks. Everyone else thinks they're incredibly cool, but Buzz is annoyed by them. It's space this, space that; he calls them the Astronerds. His birthday party looks like being ruined: they want to have inter-galactic ice cream, but he just wants to play football with his mates. It's looking like it might all end in tears.

Astronerds is the most recent addition to the Frightful Families series. They make for enjoyable but light reading. The relatively sparse text makes them perfect for reluctant or newly confident readers - there's a decent plot running throughout, but there aren't so many words as to make it seem overbearing. Teresa Murfin's exciting illustrations are peppered throughout, which bring everything to life. I particularly loved the simple, almost doodled drawings. They reminded me of some of Quentin Blake's work, albeit with an exciting style of their own.

Although Astronerds is ideal for reluctant readers, there's also plenty for slightly older or more able readers to enjoy. Who hasn't been embarrassed by their parents at one time or another? Having Buzz's parents as astronauts is a fun twist on the usual child vs parent dynamic. It'll make for perfect bedtime reading.

I've also read Explorer Trauma in the Frightful Families series. Both are great books in their own right, and different enough from each other that I'm glad I read both. However, the central plot of each is fairly similar. I'd happily read another book about Buzz Burton or Explorer Trauma's Indiana Brown, but it seems difficult to base an entire series on a theme rather than central characters. Pick up one or two of them though - you'll love them.

For the record, I have to declare an interest here: Sue Mongredien is a fellow Bookbag reviewer. I've reviewed her books with the understanding that if I didn't like them, I'd say. Luckily I liked them! Hopefully the fact that I've said people might only want to get one or two books from the Frightful Families series will stand me in good stead when I rave about how much I loved Sticky Gum Fun.

My Brother's Hot Cross Bottom by Jeremy Strong is another great story for early readers, as is Pony Party by P J Denton.

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