The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger

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The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A surreal, unusual story that's fun to read and quite thought-provoking.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Andersen
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849394833

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Mrs Bartolotti has a rather bad habit of ordering things...things that she usually doesn't need. One day a large parcel arrives in the post. Mrs Bartolotti can't think what it can be. What has she ordered recently? She thought she'd been very good! When she opens it she finds, inside, a perfect factory-made little boy - she definitely never ordered a little boy! Conrad and Mrs Bartolotti soon grow to love each other, but what will they do when the factory realises the mistake they've made and attempt to reclaim their goods?

This is a rather surreal story but is funny and interesting too. Mrs Bartolotti is eccentric, to say the least, and Conrad turns out to be the most well-behaved, polite little boy. I love the way he is portrayed, governed by rules (which Mrs Bartolotti seems to have no awareness of!) and how incredibly good he is. Seeing his interaction with Mrs Bartolotti is funny, and it's interesting too when Mr Thomas decides to be the boy's father. Mr Thomas is much more keen on rules than Mrs Bartolotti and, indeed, his claim over Conrad puts rather a strain on Mrs Bartolotti and Mr Thomas' friendship since they have such wildly different parenting styles!

When the factory begin to try to claim Conrad back the excitement builds in the book. Conrad has a friend at this point, a little girl called Kitty. She is, actually, his only friend since no one else at school likes him as he's such a rule-follower and so clever! Kitty and Mrs Bartolotti come up with a cunning plan in which they must re-educate Conrad into behaving more like a normal child. They way they do this is great fun and builds to an exciting conclusion to the story.

The book looks at both what it is to be a child and, also, what it is to be a parent. Mrs Bartolotti and Mr Thomas provide almost extreme examples at either end of the parental spectrum, and although I did find myself agreeing with Mrs Bartolotti sometimes there were other times when I could see that she wasn't really being the best parent she could be for Conrad. Still, she shows how very important love is when raising a child, and how really we should try to accept people just the way they are. Mrs Bartolotti is so unique, and unwilling to change herself for anybody, that she's a very refreshing character. I found her very funny too, especially when dealing with Mr Thomas who comes across as the most terrible stick-in-the-mud!

It isn't, unfortunately, divided into chapters so if you're going to read it to someone for their bedtime story prepare yourself for deciding on a stop point or you could end up reading on and on! There are occasional illustrations to break up the next, just in black and white but they fit in well with the quirkiness of the story. I felt my little girl, who is in Year One, is not really quite old enough to enjoy this book yet. It's probably better for those aged about 8 or older, but it would work equally well for boys and girls and is certainly an unusual, fun read.

Confident readers may also enjoy reading Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans or slightly younger readers may enjoy The Man Who Wore All His Clothes by Allan Ahlberg and Katharine McEwen

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Buy The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Factory Made Boy by Christine Nostlinger at


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