Friday 15 April 2016

ReaditDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th April 2016 - "Red's Planet" by Eddie Pittman (Amulet / Abrams)

We're addicts of intricacy. One thing you'll spot in common with all of our book of the week winners is the amazing attention to detail in them. Exactly what you'll find in "Red's Planet" by Eddie Pittman...
There's also something else you may see in common with a lot of our book of the week winners. They feature female characters, characters that Charlotte can readily get behind and be inspired by and none more so than Red, the feisty red-headed 10 year old and the hero of this tale. Red is in foster care, and feels that there's a whole other life somewhere out there that could take her away from the mundanity of school and home life.

Here's where this book had me hooked and this is where I could see the glimmer of delight in Charlotte's eyes as well. Red is me aged 10, wondering if the big wide world was out there to be explored and enjoyed and when that would actually happen to me.

In Red's case, she takes more direct action. Sneaking off and playing truant from school, Red's wish comes true in a rather unexpected way. Picked up by the police, she's trapped in the back of the patrol car when it's suddenly snatched up by a UFO! YIKES!

Red is no stranger to trouble!

This is, of course, only the start of Red's adventures as she's whisked aboard an alien craft, terrified as the strange denizens of an offworld space colony gather to see the strange artifacts the alien trader has nabbed.

But by a cruel twist of fate, the ship crash lands on a mysterious alien planet - and Red and the other survivors must adapt to this bizarre new world.

We always champion decent science fiction stuff for kids. "Red's Planet" is a completely absorbing and deeply satisfying graphic novel that we could both enjoy on different levels. Children will absolutely love Red (boys AND girls will love this spunky hero and her sass) and adults will love the subtle undertones of a girl suddenly forced to fend for herself in a completely alien environment.

Think it's hard to fit in at school? Try fitting in aboard an alien mothership!

Eddie's writing is pacy, contemporary and thorough. The illustrations are detailed and full of inventiveness. In essence it achieves what we always want our book of the week winners to achieve, producing a story that doesn't talk down to kids who, ever increasingly, need intelligent tales that treat them as they should be treated - like hungry little curiosity sponges ready to embrace new concepts far more readily than most adults.

It struck me part-way through a second reading that "Red's Planet" felt like an awesome kid-friendly version of "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams in places, partly because it lets you get nice and comfortable with an idea before turning it completely on its head, throwing you a curve-ball from time to time. Definitely the sort of thing we love to see in ANY book, not just books for kids.

It's a complete winner, we loved it to pieces. The only thing that makes us sad about this book is that we have to wait an entire year until volume 2 arrives, in Spring 2017. It's going to be an agonising wait!

Charlotte's Best Bit: Red's new-found Baloo-like companion (who reminded her of her own Grandad, which is kinda awesome in itself!)

Daddy's favourite bit: Original, punchy, brilliant and inventive. This is children's science fiction the way we like it, with glorious attention to detail, a gripping central story and exploring themes that will be so familiar to curious kids who love worlds of wonder like this book builds. Get in on the act, this is something rather special indeed.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Amulet / Abrams)

"Red's Planet"

Written and Illustrated by Eddie Pittman

Published by Amulet / Abrams

Publication Date: 19th April 2016