You, Me and Thing: The Great Expanding Guinea Pig and Beware of the Snowblobs! by Karen McCombie

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You, Me and Thing: The Great Expanding Guinea Pig and Beware of the Snowblobs! by Karen McCombie

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Two more adventures in the fun and lively series with two slightly catty friends guarding a - well, something.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 9780571310555

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'You' is Jackson, a very dim-seeming boy next door. 'Me' is Ruby, our much more intelligent, thoughtful and active narrator. Thing is – well, the thing is, Thing is a mystery – a weird sort of winged mogwai-type critter, that only 'you' and 'me' know about. All three have a den at the bottom of the humans' respective gardens, close to the built-upon former home of Thing. Oh, and Thing is also capable of some very silly, quite inappropriate and very inappropriately timed magic, so a lot of time Jackson, and especially Ruby, have to worry about keeping their secret friend a secret. As you can see by the two full adventures in this book.

You do get a long way through The Great Expanding Guinea Pig before the title character turns up. This time round it's not just Jackson being dopey and Ruby being brave and caring in trying to show Thing the world that could give the creature away – it's a strange dog from elsewhere on the estate. Being so animal-friendly the friends get tickets to a petting zoo fete, and you can possibly guess that Thing and mystery animals don't get along so well, however well it can speak their languages.

Beware of the Snowblobs! is the winter episode, with the constant threat of snowball fights, and two horrid cousins staying with Jackson. And with Thing wanting to go for his first sledging trip to the park… By now, we're easily seeing the pattern of these books – the testy friendship between the humans, the scrapes that have to happen several times throughout, and especially the magic – the beats when that occurs are very similar in both stories.

But despite – or more probably, because – these are five and six in this series (and both firmly self-contained) the pattern is both well-established and both easily played with by a confident author. If anything, Snowblobs! has a more coherent plot and through-line, but the adventures in both tales are fine, the characterisation fun for the target audience, and the whole series seems perfectly balanced for the under-tens girls, if not perhaps the boys. (Jackson does seem to draw a short straw and get picked on too often.) Most importantly, Thing is not too derivative – yes, it's a Gremlin-lite, and these aren't the first two children to have secret, alien-type best friends they have to keep protected and private, but these stories do their jobs very well. I was less keen on the illustrations, and the way a lot of them are lost in the middle of the spread, but the design, list-making tic and all-round narrative exuberance are great for the intended reader. So I think it's jelly babies all round.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

The series started here. I am sure it's not a step too far for this audience to enjoy the series beginning with the award-winning The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies.

Buy You, Me and Thing: The Great Expanding Guinea Pig and Beware of the Snowblobs! by Karen McCombie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy You, Me and Thing: The Great Expanding Guinea Pig and Beware of the Snowblobs! by Karen McCombie at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy You, Me and Thing: The Great Expanding Guinea Pig and Beware of the Snowblobs! by Karen McCombie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy You, Me and Thing: The Great Expanding Guinea Pig and Beware of the Snowblobs! by Karen McCombie at Amazon.com.


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