Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space by A F Harrold

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Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space by A F Harrold

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A cub reporter is looking for a scoop. A silvery robot is taking over the galaxy, planet by planet. What would happen if the two were to meet? A madcap, joke filled joy of a read, that's what!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: September 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408869470

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No one knew that only three things stood in the way of the complete and utter destruction of the Earth: one elderly parrot, one eleven-year-old spelling mistake and one intrepid young newspaper-reporter-cum-schoolgirl in search of a Big Scoop.

Oh my word! What a prospect! Let me break it down for you. The parrot has only ever learned to speak one sentence. The spelling mistake is between great and Greta. Both these things point the alien danger to Earth, a silvery robot, in the direction of Greta Zargo, who is the wannabe reporter.

Greta, whose parents died while she was still a baby, attained her majority aged just eight, thank to another one of those spelling mistakes. Greta manages pretty well as mistress of her own destiny, albeit with some interesting dietary choices involving sherbet and hot chocolate powder. Her overriding ambition is to win the Prilchard-Spritzer Medal; the top journalism award available to residents of the sleepy town of Upper Lowerbridge. Greta needs a Big Scoop. And she thinks she's found it when cakes suddenly start disappearing all over town.

As Greta chases around Upper Lowerbridge, trying to find the criminal behind this shocking outbreak of cake crime, a silvery robot traverses the galaxy eating up planets. It's been sent from the planet of Cestrypip by its great scientist Harknow-Bumfurly-Histlock to gather information about alien civilisations but its mission has been somewhat corrupted and it's ended up destroying the planets it reports upon.

What will happen when the silvery robot arrives on Earth? Who is stealing the cakes? And will Greta win the Prilchard-Spritzer Medal?

Ha. I loved this madcap story. Every child wants to be Greta, largely free from adult control as she is. And honestly, she gets on with life pretty well. Ok, her diet might leave a little to be desired but she does well at school, has interests and is determined when trying to reach her goals. She's also full of blunt directness and full of innate common sense. I really liked her. And - glory to the world! - I actually solved the mystery of the cake thief before the reveal. I am triumphant about this because I am usually the last to catch on. The sections about the Cestrypian robot gradually cannibalising planet after planet based on a shaky idea of what constitutes consent are funny in a banana skin slip kind of way but Harrold also makes them rather sad, as they should be. It's a clever balance.

As you'd expect from anything written by the gloriously funny A F Harrold, there are jokes aplenty and a real love of language shines through every page. We need as many daft names and puns as we can get because they are life-affirming.

More Greta please.

If Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space appeals, you might also enjoy any of the Grubtown Tales from Philip Ardagh, which are also surreal and witty. And if you haven't met Mr Gum yet, then you should.

Buy Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space by A F Harrold at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space by A F Harrold at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space by A F Harrold at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space by A F Harrold at Amazon.com.


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