A fun and slightly silly middle grade story. Perfect for fans of Roald Dahl and David Walliams.
Daniel Kendall has nothing in common with his family. He knows he’s different and his family nickname – Oddbod – only serves to reinforce this. He is, therefore, not surprised when his sister, Jessie, informs him that he’s not really her brother. It’s easy for Daniel to accept her assertion that he’s really an alien, abandoned my alien parents and adopted by the Kendall family simply because they felt sorry for him. Suddenly Daniel understands why he is different and all he wants now is to return to his home planet. He enlists his two best friends, Freddo and Gordon, to help him. They have plenty of ideas but their plans are not always sensible or, indeed, safe.
The tone of this slightly silly middle grade story is set from the start when we discover how Daniel’s mum and dad met (at a nudist beach in Tenerife) and are introduced to the rest of the family. This is in one of the funniest opening chapters that I’ve read this year. It’s also very impressive writing: in less than one page we’ve laughed out loud, discovered how Daniel doesn’t fit in, and learnt an extraordinary amount about every member of the Kendall family.
Told in first person from Daniel’s point of view, the reader immediately warms to our main character. He’s engaging and witty with a collection of insecurities that children are likely to identify with. If they’ve got brothers and sisters, they might also recognise Jessie’s ‘Random Mood Generator’ which has setting such as ‘mega mean’, ‘obnoxious’ and ‘murderous’.
The voice feels real and I particularly loved the use of lists to share both important plot information and funny asides. I especially liked the ‘Top 5 Secrets of the Kendall Family’ and the list of the trick or treat costumes which includes ‘2 Wonder Women and 3 Supergirls – all adults’, ‘1 Justin Bieber lookalike followed by 9 screaming girls’ and ‘2 police officers – though they might have been real.’
As characters Daniel’s friends, Freddo and Gordon, are less three dimensional but I assume this is deliberate and I have no doubt that young readers will enjoy ideas the two boys develop to send Daniel home. My personal favourite was when they try to practice cryogenics (freezing people alive) in the family bathroom.
While this is a funny story, there is also a serious message about fitting in and it was particularly rewarding to find the Kendall family uniting in the climax (you’ll have to read the story to find out more). If you enjoyed this, you’ll also enjoy reading any of the classics by Roald Dahl or the popular books by David Walliams. If you haven’t read them already, why not start with The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams or Demon Dentist by David Walliams.
Date: June 2016
Publisher: Troika Books
Author’s website: Jo Franklin
Review first published on The Bookbag