In 1994 I took my one and only trip to London. I loved every precious minute spent in the city, but have unfortunately never been back. On my last day before coming home I wandered into a charming bookstore. My goal was to pick up a book I could read to my new group of sixth graders in the Fall. I also wanted it to be from an English author. The first book I came across had a name I could barely pronounce, but the cover grabbed me immediately. The book was GRIDZBI SPUDVETCH! by Mark Haddon. I read the entire story on the way home and kids the next school year adored the book. It literally disappeared off the shelves.
Flash forward to 2010. I come across the same book with a completely different cover and name – BOOM! The forward states that the author (Mark Haddon famously known for THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG AT NIGHT-TIME) had received a charming support letter from a group of English school kids and decided to update the story. It’s a rare case where an old book is rewritten for a new generation by the same author. I’m glad he did and it’s only taken me until now to finally read this new version.
PUBLICATION DATE:2010 LEVEL: 4.1 WORD COUNT: 35,732
FULL PLOT (From Amazon): From the moment that Jim and his best friend, Charlie, bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know there’s an adventure on its way.
But what does “spudvetch” actually mean, and why do Mr. Kidd’s eyes flicker with fluorescent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Perhaps Kidd and Pearce are bank robbers talking in code. Perhaps they’re spies. Perhaps they are aliens. Whatever it is, Jimbo and Charlie are determined to find out.
There really is an adventure on its way. A nuclear-powered, one-hundred-ton adventure with reclining seats and a buffet car. And as it gathers speed and begins to spin out of control, it can only end one way . . . with a BOOM!
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT BOOM!
- Jimbo and Charlie are charming main characters. They are wise, funny, and insightful.
- The deadpan humor that sneaks up on you in every chapter.
- It was rather fun wading through some of the cultural differences and trying to decipher a few English words like bonnet for a car hood.
- What could be a tiresome plot idea – your teachers are aliens – is told in a refreshing way. Sure to appeal to boys and girls alike.
- Obvious bad guys and likeable good guys all thrown together in a plot that may have a few holes, but who cares when the danger, mystery, and action is plentiful.
Five minutes after that I’m going to explode too. So I just wanted to say that I love you. And don’t stand too close to me…
One note of caution: Middle grade books in England must have a different set of standards when it comes to language. Sprinkled throughout BOOM! are several “Damns” and “What the Hell…” spoken by both kids and adults.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.