Friday, October 13, 2017

ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 13th October 2017 - "Simply the Quest" by Maz Evans (Chicken House Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week is the fantastic follow-up to one of our favourite books of the year, can Maz Evans pull off the difficult second book in her "Gods" series? Of course she can!

There are many, many reasons to love Maz Evans' fantastically funny books. The first reason is that all day, after reading the title of one, you'll find yourself humming the tune that goes with that title at odd moments.

Yes, it's fair to say that I keep hearing a musical burst of the chorus of "Simply the Best" by Tina Turner, transposed with the title of Maz Evans' superb follow up to "Who Let The Gods Out" (again, another musical earworm of a title that had the same effect).

But, you're asking, is the book any good?

It's flipping brilliant, in fact once again Maz has pulled off that most difficult of gigs. Writing a funny book for kids (and adults) that ticks all the right boxes and piles on a multi-layered lasagne of laughs is so hard, so very hard.

Yet here we are, with book two and our hapless hero Elliot Hooper isn't having any more of an easy life than he did in Book 1.

Elliot's mum's health is worsening. He's struggling at school, and just to really put a spoke in his wheels a bunch of anarchic Greek immortals have moved into his home.

There's also that whole "awkward girl thing" going on as teen goddess Virgo has also arrived on the scene, and she's nothing but trouble with a capital T. 

Virgo and Elliot must join forces to combat Thanatos and his equally scary mum, hell bent on destroying the gods and taking over the world. You know, just to make Tuesdays a little more interesting. 

We Love Maz's humour. It's fast, funny but there's also that really admirable quality of bittersweetness and pathos mixed in with the more obvious bodily function gags and hilarious exchanges between Elliot and Virgo. For some reason (and I'm probably going out on a limb here) Maz's writing reminds me of the utter comedy genius David Renwick, who also had a true gift for melding together acute moments of embarrassment with touching moments of humanity (no mean feat when half your book features immortals with terrible ego problems of their own). 

We cannot recommend this book enough, in fact in the ever-growing list of amazing middle grade fiction we're seeing on the blog, if we're ever asked to recommend great books to get kids into proper meaty chapter book reading, this and "Who Let The Gods Out" are very high up the list. 

"Simply the Quest" (Tina Turner Wig Not Included) by Maz Evans is out now, published by Chicken House (kindly supplied for review). 

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