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Boom! Hardcover – May 11, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—When James, aka Jimbo, and his friend Charlie overhear two of their teachers talking in a strange language, their curiosity is piqued. They investigate the home of one of them, an elderly woman, and discover a note written in the mysterious language and a collection of brass bracelets. Then Charlie goes missing, and Jimbo and his sister embark on a trip to Scotland's Isle of Skye, where they discover that aliens are kidnapping science-fiction fans to repopulate their dying planet. Haddon explains in the foreword that this novel is a revision of his Gridzbi Spudvetch! (Walker, 1994, o.p.). Though this book targets a younger audience than the author's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Doubleday, 2003), the narrative is much more British, which adds a slight comprehension barrier to an otherwise accessible story. Readers of the "My Teacher Is an Alien" series (S & S) will appreciate Bruce Coville's influences. Adventure and quirky humor keep the pages turning, and readers will connect to Jimbo with little difficulty. If they can overcome some of the cultural differences, they will appreciate the simple and engaging tale.—Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Originally released (and mostly ignored) in 1992 under the title Gridzbi Spudvetch!, Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, 2003) was inspired by its cult status to extensively rehaul and update the text. Seen with fresh eyes, the result is a minor but nevertheless enjoyable light sci-fi romp. Wanting to get the drop on their teachers, middle-grader Jim and his buddy Charlie hide a walkie-talkie in the teacher’s lounge. What they hear, though, is more than a bit confusing: “Zorner ment. Cruss mo plug” and all other manners of verbal nonsense. Further investigation reveals two of the teachers to be aliens, and after Charlie is abducted, it’s up to Jim and his death-metal obsessed teen sister to save the day. It’s exactly the kind of caper you imagine when you’re a kid, filled with adult conspiracies, secret codes, and wisecrack-filled escapades. Sure, it gets a little tiring during its zany spaceship finale, but it’s hard to find much fault in a climax featuring a giant, disco-obsessed alien spider named Britney. Grades 4-7. --Daniel Kraus

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books; 1 edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385751877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385751872
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,107,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here's an interesting factoid. There are 51 reviews for this book as of this writing, and 46 of them are from Vine reviewers, who get free books and are asked to submit reviews. The most recent review is 10 months old. So, I somehow suspect that Haddon is not going to be buying a new Porsche with his royalties.

Which is a shame, because this is a very entertaining book. The plot is pretty standard, (my teacher is an alien), although the ending is zanier and more fun than I expected. The two lead characters are appealing. Granted, they are written to be older, wiser, funnier and more insightful than would be age appropriate, but I am willing to overlook that since it means they are wiser, funnier, and more insightful. The byplay between Jimbo and his sister is wonderfully done, which adds a nice amount of variety to the character interactions.

I don't think British slang is a problem, since most of it can be figured out from context, and the rest doesn't matter. It's not like the book is written in some obscure dialect, there are just a few unfamiliar words.

But at bottom bear this in mind - there are some truly funny lines and bits of dialogue in this book. There is some great deadpan humor, in a Greg Hefley "Diary..." kind of way. There are rewards to be found, and don't forget that someone besides me has to actually buy this book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My daughter read this book in one evening. She enjoyed it so much, she couldn't put it down. I could hear her cracking up from her bedroom, and she later told me it was one of the best, funniest books she'd read in a long time. When we later saw this book in a local book store, she told several kids in the store that they should also read it. She is an avid reader, but it isn't often that a book elicits such an enthusiastic and gushing response from her. I'd recommend this book for other kids who like an entertaining read.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
From a financial perspective, it makes perfect sense that this book, originally published in 1992 under the title Gridzbi Spudvetch!, is being given a second life nearly twenty years later. Its author, Mark Haddon, has since achieved literary renown as the author of 2003's book club favorite The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the lesser known but equally enjoyable A Spot of Bother (Vintage). It's been nearly four year's since the latter's publication, and with no new adult novel on the horizon (for the time being), it makes sense to haul a title out of the archives before people forget about Haddon. Similar action was taken with Yann Martel after the roaring success of his Life of Pi, when The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios - an older collection of short stories - was repackaged for the public. Adult fans of Haddon's `previous' novels are bound to feel intrigued. Toss in the fact that Boom! was actually written for the young adult market, which is enjoying strong sales in a comparatively bleak market for books, and everything seems perfect. For both Haddon and the publisher, of course.

The problem with repackaging these older titles is that they inevitably seem hopelessly amateur compared with the author's current work.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I read the description for this novel, I was really excited to read it. I mean, students overhearing their teachers speaking a strange language? If that doesn't sound intriguing for a school-aged child, I'm not sure what does. However, while I found the premise of the novel really strong, I found the actual execution to be disappointing.

I think my biggest issue with this book is that the voice feels off. I've read a good number of children's and YA fiction, and the best of those genres always feel like the narrator's voice is authentic to the age group. Jimbo is a likable enough character, but he felt to me like a kid written by an adult. I wanted, instead, for him to feel like he was an actual kid.

My other disappointment with this novel was that I felt that the central plot took too long to get off the ground and then, when it did, it wasn't as interesting as I felt it should have been. There are a lot of plot threads to this novel, everything from Jimbo's father's unemployment to gender issues to teenagers making bad dating choices--in other words, far too many for such a short novel. I really felt like Jimbo's feelings about his father's joblessness could have been a novel in and of itself. It would certainly have been a different type of novel, but the potential was there. Instead, I found myself wondering when the whole mystery of the teachers would come into play rather than detailed descriptions of the meals Jimbo's father was cooking.

There is some really good, dry wit to this novel. I especially enjoyed the strange linguistics of Britney and fellows. They sounded like they had learned English by watching cheesy 70s movies or something. Jimbo also has a sort of wry view of his world, and this did lend some amusing moments to the book.
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