Friday 26 September 2014

Prankenstein by Andy Seed (Fat Fox Books)


Written by Andy Seed

Illustrated by Richard Morgan

Published by Fat Fox Books

With a good dose of dark humour that put us in mind of David Walliams or Roald Dahl, Andy Seed's first book for Fat Fox Books, "Prankenstein" is a funny and original story that veers between a detective novel and a knockabout chaotic caper.

Soapy Thompson is an ordinary boy, but extraordinary things keep happening to him and his family. Strange things keep going wrong but after Soapy's beloved Granny ends up propelled through the roof of the house after her stairlift is tampered with, it's the last straw.

Soapy and his friends decide to set themselves up as detectives to find out just who is lurking in the shadows, causing mischief and mayhem wherever they go.

Andy Seed has struck a chord here, tapping into a genre that seems to have slipped out of favour, and is woefully under-represented in children's literature - that of the child detective. Growing up with books like the Famous Five and the Secret Seven, and moving on to more grown up fare like the works of Dashiell Hammett and the awesome Malcolm Pryce, I thought that "Prankenstein" set up an envious collection of characters and situations that should attract kids who crave something a little different (even a little more noir) than standard comedy stuff they're used to.

That said, it wasn't for Charlotte. Possibly it was too old for her, possibly it was a bit boy-centric (though Soapy's friends are a good diverse mix as are the cast of characters - and who doesn't love a good monster thrown into the mix). Charlotte passed this one up so it was up to me to take a closer look.

It's obvious that Andy's previous job seems to have stood him in good stead. As a primary school teacher he picked up on and became well-versed in observing child behaviour, tapping into what makes them tick and most importantly what makes them laugh. It shows through in Prankenstein and though younger children might find it all a bit spooky in places, it's a good all-round rollicking read setting up perfectly for more.

Charlotte's best bit: N/A

Daddy's Favourite bit: The sort of noir-ish detective story that takes ordinary everyday kids as its main characters, instantly giving the reader a focus to identify with. Skilfully written with great illustrations courtesy of Richard Morgan, and an impressive start to Fat Fox's broadly appealing and rapidly expanding book catalogue.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Fat Fox Books)