*** Don't miss my Shoutykid giveaway ! ***
If you look on the flyleaf of the second Shoutykid book, there are lots of quotes from readers (all aged 8-10) enthusing about how it is fabulous, hilarious and really awesome. Well, I'd like to add my own : "Unputdownable, endearing and laugh-out-loud funny. Cheryl, aged 42". Yes, I know I'm not at all in the target audience but I absolutely loved it and read through both books in the space of an evening, rather than watching the telly !
Despite his nickname, Harry Riddles (aka Shoutykid) is a quiet, unassuming ten year old. A bit of a loner, he prefers spending hours playing on World of Zombies online rather than getting outside into the real world with his friends or playing sport. His family are perfectly ordinary - his dad is a moderately successful script writer, his mum hovers around more in the background than in a leading role and his older sister Charlotte likes to make his life a misery, in between dates with her latest boyfriend. The bickering and banter between Harry's family members and friends are hilarious because they are so believable and as an adult, I love it when Harry takes things that his parents have said at face value when they are obviously meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
The books' format is very innovative - it is entirely written in texts, online forum discussions and emails, interspersed with funny sketches and doodles. This makes it a really quick read (which is why I managed to read through both in the space of an evening) and makes it much less daunting and more appealing to novice or reluctant readers. 8-12 year old boys are notoriously unenthusiastic readers so they'll be reeled in by the content (gaming, football, high jinks at school, ...) and young male narrator. The books look very long - they're both well over 300 pages long - so Juliette was put off until I showed her some of the pages.
In the first book, Shoutykid : How Harry Riddles Made a Mega-Amazing Zombie Movie, Harry decides to try to help out his down-on-his-luck dad, whose latest script has been slated and who needs to get a job in a supermarket to help make ends meet. In between writing updates on his life to his cousin in America (which is how the main story is told), Harry writes a number of hilarious letters to famous people who might help him out - The Queen, the prime minister, Hollywood actors and Harry Styles from One Direction (much to the girls' delight), to name but a few. When they (unsurprisingly) fail to provide financial support, he decides to make a zombie movie that will make his family rich and allow his dad to follow his dream, rather than sell out and spend the rest of his life stacking shelves.
The second book, Shoutykid : How Harry Riddles Mega-Massively Broke The School, sees Harry's parents dropping a bombshell - his mum is pregnant but not only that, she's expecting twins ! As if that's not bad enough, they also decide that Harry is spending far too long gaming in his room and limit his screen time. He sneakily decides to create a computer club at school but ends up getting into hot water when the entire school network is hacked, with hilarious consequences. To try to redeem himself (and impress a girl he likes), Harry decides to give the school football team a go and manages to use his love of World of Zombies to create new winning game tactics.
The tone of the book really reminded me of an updated version of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, but it's also comparable to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I'd say it would appeal to readers of both sexes aged about 8 upwards, but it's far too good to keep for the kids so make sure you read it when they've finished with it !
I was very pleased to learn that a third Shoutykid book will be released over the summer, so I'll definitely be looking out for that. I also have a giveaway coming up in just a moment where you can win a copy of the second book.
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £6.99
Disclosure : I received the books in order to write an honest review.