The TV Time Travellers by Pete Johnson
|The TV Time Travellers by Pete Johnson|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Highly enjoyable and darkly comedic take on reality TV. The moral of the story? Real, human dramas contain more conflict and interest than anything staged by a TV producer ever could.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: June 2009|
When Zac wins a place on a new reality TV show, he couldn't be more chuffed. Strictly Evacuees has a WWII premise, and the contestants must live as evacuees on a country farm. So it's all right up Zac's alley as he is not only a WWII enthusiast, he's also desperate to get away from Aunt Sara's, where he and his father have lived since his mother died. Izzy has different reasons for being overjoyed to make it through the auditions for Strictly Evacuee. She's missing a parent too, but for different reasons. Her father skipped town years ago and her mother is a struggling single parent. The two of them could do with the holiday of a lifetime prize that the show is offering.
Everyone arrives in high excitement, but Zac and Izzy have some nasty shocks coming. The people running the show are absolutely horrible, and they'll stop at nothing in the search for ratings. The question is, what will happen on the night of the live final?
I enjoyed The TV Time Travellers. It takes a thoroughly enjoyable swipe at the reality TV phenomenon and it does it with some style. It's funny, but the comedy is fairly dark for fiction for this age group - I'd put it at middle to late primary level, and perhaps early secondary for reluctant readers. There's a deal of pathos too, as each contestant, but particularly grieving Zac, has problems to overcome. But the villians are just straight out of pantomime. We don't waste any time feeling sorry for them, no sirree, we just boo and hiss.
The obvious theme is celebrity culture, but Johnson also talks about honesty, friendship, doing right by others, and about the process of grief, and there isn't a trace of preachiness about it. I'm told Johnson keeps in contact with a panel of children so he can maintain a good understanding of their viewpoint, and it shows here. I think it will show to his young readers too. The emotional landscape is immediately familiar, the subject is popular and contemporary, and the writing is energetic, vivid and accessible. The moral of the story? Real, human dramas contain more conflict and interest than anything staged by a TV producer ever could.
So who do you want to win? Zac? Izzy? Or the ratings?
My thanks to the nice people at Corgi for sending the book. Kid Swap by Michael Lawrence takes another swipe at reality TV on behalf of young readers. Its comedy has more slapstick and less pathos. Teenagers might like the thought of reality TV in a dystopian future in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
You can read more book reviews or buy The TV Time Travellers by Pete Johnson at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The TV Time Travellers by Pete Johnson at Amazon.com.
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