Star rating: * * * * 4 out of 5
Kids need silly. Children’s lives, nowadays, seem to be stuffed with activities, schedules, homework, schedules, performances, more schedules. Even the ‘fun’ stuff has a goal – an educational opportunity here, a junior CV point there.
There’s all the time in the world to be successful (or not) later in life. Childhood is the time to be silly, and ridiculous, and then silly again.
That’s why I love crazy comedy sci-fi books, like Mark Griffiths’ Geek Inc: Technoslime Terror. These books remind me of those little flowers that sometimes grow between the small cracks in the pavement – sneaking silliness into over-scheduled lives and giving kids the chance to lose themselves in giggles and nonsense.
Because this book is brilliantly bonkers. With grandfather clocks that wander around empty pieces of wasteland, pencil sharpeners that come to life, and paper aeroplanes that attack annoying children, Geek Inc: Technoslime Terror raises the wonderful possibility that our everyday world could succumb to a sudden attack of lunacy at any minute. And what use would all that scheduling be then?
Mark Griffiths has created an angelic psychopath of a ‘baddie’ in Gloria Pickles, fearsome tween editor of the Blue Hills High Examiner and devout believer in “the importance of adhering to school rules”. The lovely Gloria brings a whole new meaning to the idea of controlling people through the media.
Another great thing about this book is its layout. During Dyslexia Awareness Week, I spoke to children about the struggles they face with reading. I was impressed by the line spacing, the large, clear font, and the funny, relevant illustrations of Technoslime Terror. These elements make it easier for young readers to follow the entertainingly odd adventures of Gabby Grayling and Barney Watkins – President and Vice President (and only two members) of Geek Inc.
To my glee, I have discovered this book is the first of a series, which promises i) time travellers from the future mingling unnoticed with the shoppers in the high street ii) school children developing uncanny powers, and iii) strange creatures lurking within the grounds of a forgotten stately home. Can silly get any better than that?
Looks like I’ll be making Mark Griffiths’ books a regular part of our family schedule!