Monday, 17 December 2012

The Mum Shop by Ceci Jenkinson

Welcome to Books FC where a panel of experts review some of the best children's books. The panel, in case you've forgotten, is:
Mad Scientist: Expert in everything
Party Rocker: Expert in being rude
Striker: Expert in football and being a hooligan
Flower Power: Expert in training

The experts have been writing their Christmas wish lists. See if you can guess who wrote which wish:
1. Einstein's brain
2. A wand that actually works
3. A ban on all polite words
4. England winning the next football World Cup

Poor old Mum's going to have a hard time going shopping for that lot. But don't worry. The experts have a plan B. If they don't get what they want for Christmas, they're going to take their Mum back to the Mum Shop and swap her for a new one. Now where did they get an idea like that from?

The next book to face the panel of experts is The Mum Shop by Ceci Jenkinson. Oli, our hero, is not pleased with his Mum. She doesn't order enough pizza and she won't let him watch Real Blood Bath Murders. So, Oli takes her to the Mum Shop and swaps her for a new mum, Sid. All starts well. Sid also loves pizza and orders one straight away. Unfortunately neither Sid, nor Oli, have any money to pay for the pizza and that's only the start of their problems...


Mad Scientist: Not another scientist bad guy! The villain in this book, Gertrude Swithin, used to be a science teacher. It's a conspiracy!

Party Rocker: And no rude words in the entire book either. Definitely a conspiracy.

Mad Scientist: Let's form a secret society to fight the conspiracy. The revolution statement of our society will be:
1. All heroes and heroines must be scientists.
2. All villains must be TV presenters or pop stars.

Party Rocker: What!? You're on your own bud.

Striker: Well, I just want to give this book 5 stars.

Party Rocker: Actually me too. It was sick! It gets 5 stars just 'cause one of the mums turned up in a tank.

Striker: And it gets 5 stars for the matcher machine, which I wanted to play with, and 5 stars for the revolution statement, which I wanted to rip up. I also really liked it because I really liked Oli; he was funny, and silly, and brave and cool and reminded me of me!

Flower Power (starting to cry): I don't want to swap Mum...

So, The Mum Shop scored 5 stars from those so called experts who actually bothered to vote. It seems anyone can be an expert these days...

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Windvale Sprites by Mackenzie Crook

It's not often the panel of experts review books that are classics, or even 'instant classics'. Actually, it's not often the panel of experts review books. (Sorry!) They are too busy squabbling. But The Windvale Sprites by Mackenzie Crook is special. So special, the panel of experts have decided to hold a ceasefire just so they can review the book properly.

The story starts when the very ordinary Asa Brown discovers something very extraordinary floating in his duckpond. Something with olive brown skin, dark wispy hair, pointed ears and two long antennae. Asa has no idea what the creature might be but he wants to know, and very soon he has discovered his first clue.

Mad Scientist: Why do scientists always get a bad press? Why is Asa the hero? Why not Benjamin Tooth the alchemist? Just once, I'd like to read a book where a scientist doesn't make a mistake and cause a plague, or breed a herd of man eating dinosaurs, or blow the world up. Just once, I'd like the scientist to be the hero and save the day. Just the other day, for example, I was on a beach and spotted a venomous snake. But because I was a scientist, I was able to identify the snake and alert everyone. Just think, if I hadn't been there...

Party Rocker: ...everybody might have been able to surf and sunbathe in peace, instead of being asked to evacuate the beach.

Mad Scientist: It was an emergency. I was saving their lives.

Party Rocker: And this is a book review, and you are off the point.

Mad Scientist: Alright then, I give this book 4 stars. The plot was exciting and well planned, the characters were convincing, the descriptions apt and deft, and the ending a real shock. In fact it deserves 5 stars. In fact, let's decide that Asa grew up and become a scientist. Now the book has a positive message and is fighting against stereotypes. So I'm going to give it 10 stars.

Party Rocker: Sorry, I've just remembered it had a fairy on the front cover and I refuse to review any book with a fairy on the front.

Striker: It's a sprite, not a fairy.

Party Rocker: Whatever.

Striker: Well, I didn't like the look of the cover either. I thought it was a fairy at first and I thought it looked like it had lots of long words inside and no pictures. So I was planning on striking the book out of the hand of anyone who tried to read it to me, or give it to me. But then, when I heard the story, I changed my mind. This is my favourite book ever (since the last one that was my favourite). I loved everything about it and I want to give it a sky full of stars because it was so brilliant.

Flower Power: Well I want to give it 5 stars because...

Striker: You can't. I've used up all the stars. There aren't any left.

Flower Power: That's not fair. I'm telling. Mummmmmm!

So The Windvale Sprites scores a cosmic multitude of stars and the ceasefire is officially over.