Spy Toys by Mark Powers, illus. Tim Weeson. Pub. Bim UK imprint Allen&Unwin, 2017
I am very impressed with this new series that is designed for reluctant readers both boys and girls of primary/intermediate age.
In a phrase it is like the cartoon network without the cartoons. Bizarre, witty with a tight and sharp dialogue exchange between the highly imaginative characters.
The plot and characters revolve around rejected and defective high tech toys from the Snaztacular Ultrafun toy factory. Dan is a cuddly bear who is so strong he can crush a tractor with his cuddles, Arabella, a rag doll with an attitude to burn and sympathy for no-one and Flax a highly aggressive rabbit with a down beat wit.
The toys are all discarded because they are defective but escape into the World and are captured then hired by Auntie Roz from the Department of Secret Affairs to bodyguard the Prime Ministers son from Rusty Flumptrunk a very bad half Elephant half human nasty.
Brilliant stuff with Tim Weeson’s animation filling in the gaps.
I was spellbound and read the short book in one sitting with a smile all over my face. It is great.The first chapter about Dan is called If Hugs Could kill and it sets the tone of the book immediately. Big font makes reading easy.
If you want your reluctant readers particularly boys to read, these are a great start.
iBoy by Kevin Brooks. Pub. Penguin Books, 2010.
Tom Harvey lives in a tower block in South London where crime and gangs rule the world. Nobody’s life is untouched by this criminal world. One afternoon as he is walking home somebody throws an iPhone from the top of the tower block and it hits Tom in the head.
The iPhone was thrown at the same time Tom’s teenage friend Lucy was being beaten and raped by members of a local gang, in her own apartment. Tom is unconscious for 17 days and when he awakes he feels different, like a billion bees buzzing around in his brain.
The surgeon tells Tom that pieces of the iPhone had buried themselves deep in his brain and couldn’t be surgically removed and when these pieces start to react with his brain Tom becomes iBoy.
iBoy can do everything an iPhone can do but inside his brain and he can turn it off and on at will. Powerful stuff. He can tune in to any cell phone message he wants, he can film an event and send it wherever he wants. The scope for corruption is open to him, but Tom wants revenge for those who raped Lucy. He is an avenging angel and boy does he make hay while the sun shines.
I can tell you no more except that you will stay reading this book until the end, it is gripping.
Kevin Brooks is one of my favourite authors. He has great ideas and he writes them well. The ending is stunning. How about this for a line “if I ever catch you even thinking about killing yourself, i’ll make sure its the last thing you ever do”.
Weep with desire.