boom! is the story of what happens when you help your friend to bug the school staff room and rather than discovering whether you’ll be sent to a “special [school] for kids with problems” you hear your teachers talking in an strange, perhaps alien, language.
boom! is also the story of what happens when you buy other books by an author you previously enjoyed by looking at the cover rather than reading up on the age of reader it’s pitched at.
Mark Haddon – author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which I gave away in large quantities as part of World Book Night – originally published this science fiction adventure back as Gridzbi Spudvetch! in 1972. Eighteen years later Haddon revised the title to make it pronounceable, and updated the technology mentioned in the book (gone are the floppy disks and Walkmans) as well as many of the sentences.
boom! follows the adventures of Jimbo, his friend Charlie, his sister Becky and motorbike-riding boyfriend Craterface through school, up and down rope ladders, into a secret-bearing attic and on a road trip to Scotland and beyond. Friendship, ingenuity, bravery and the ability to think food onto a plate.
boom! is a light-hearted and fun read, and likely to be suitable for 8-11 year olds. More mature readers will turn the pages quickly, but find the time to smirk at the characterisation of science fiction fans with their ridiculous arguments “about whether Daleks were scarier than Cybermen”. (SLIGHT SPOILER.) There’s also a lovely discussion about sense in repopulating a planet with the kind of people who don’t have “families and jobs and friends and stuff” and are instead “really happy” about being stolen away from Earth.
As a holiday read last week, it was perfect! Expect to see P6 or P7 classes reading it at a school near you. Just watch out for the staff room conversation afterwards ...