Spudboy and Chip by David Windle
|Spudboy and Chip by David Windle|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Ever heard of a potato-based superhero? You have now! Energetic and original story primarily intended for reluctant readers of about 9 years old. David Windle popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 134||Date: April 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
Sticky Toffee Trifle flavour mashed potato. This one's a winner!
Er... ok then. Not.
Colin Sludge's parents run a fish and chip shop and it isn't doing so well. So Colin's mum is trying out new recipes to tempt in more customers and Colin's dad is using Colin as a guinea pig. The only problem is that Colin has eaten quite enough exotic mashed potato, thankyouverymuch. He's practically bursting with it. And the house is practically bursting with potato peelings, so it's no wonder that Colin slips and falls when he's taking them out to the garbage bins.
The thing is, this particular pile of slushy potato detritus has some special properties. And when Colin wakes the next morning, he finds that strange things are happening to his body. It's a potato merge! And if that weren't bad enough, he's acquired a new friend - Chip, the inescapable talking potato. Understandably, Colin is unimpressed by these events. But will he change his mind when he realises the full potential of Spudboy?
Spudboy and Chip is a gloriously original story. I quite want a vegetable companion of my own now that I've read it. I won't choose a carrot though, because I've been warned off them by Chip. Chip's not big on carrots. Colin is a great central character - he's slightly geeky and vulnerable but he's also got a strong will and a definite sense of right and wrong. It's interesting to watch him resist his transformation at the outset but eventually work out how he can use it for good. There's plenty of surreal humour and some laugh-out-loud slapstick passages. Windle, a primary school teacher, clearly knows what makes children laugh. But he also knows how to put positive messages into a story - in Spudboy, they are all about facing up to change, as all children do as they grow, and being brave when it counts.
The language is clear and accessible and the chapters are short and sharp. The text is double-spaced in a clear font, two more important accessibility features. Colin is a Year 5 child, so nine or ten years old, and the content of this story will suit that age group well, while the length and vocabulary will both include less confident readers from that age group and invite in more confident readers of seven and above.
The only criticism I can think of to make is about the lack of female peer characters. We meet Colin's mum, his neighbour and his teacher, who are all women and some girl schoolmates are referred to, but the only children who get any significant action or dialogue are boys. Spudboy and Chip is intended for kids who need to be persuaded to read fiction and such kids are disproportionately boys, but it would still have been nice to see a girl with agency in this story.
That tiny nitpick aside, Spudboy and Chip is immediately accessible and it's also immediately engaging and entertaining. It's funny and anarchic and original. Have you ever come across a potato-based superhero before? Didn't think so. It contains some empowering messages about courage in the face of adversity and being unafraid of change. And most of all, it will attract children resistant to fiction - those much talked about reluctant readers. What more could you want?
By the way, everybody should go and look David Windle's website, which is a lovely, lovely resource for all things language, particularly poetry, for primary school children. Parents will find all sorts of inspiration there.
If Spudboy and Chip appeals, you might also enjoy Robot Girl by Malorie Blackman, in which Claire's dad invents a robot and makes it just like Claire. Claire is not impressed! It's also perfect for reluctant readers.
David Windle was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Spudboy and Chip by David Windle at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Spudboy and Chip by David Windle at Amazon.com.
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