Every fortnight, my daughter walks into the local library and proudly chooses and whole handful of books. We’ve been doing this since she was a baby. Now, by the age of 4, she is clearly knows which type of books she likes.
A few months ago, she picked up a book (whose name now escapes me) about a boy who sees an advert offering him a new mum. With great excitement, he phones the number. The obliging fox at the end of the line promptly dispatches a new mu. All is not well. By the end, he’s requested a quite a few different mums, before eventually realising that he wants his own mum back. David Baddiel’s Parent Agency also follows a similar plot.
Why am I telling you this? I Swapped My Brother On The Internet is a slight twist on those plots. Instead of exchanging parents, you’ve guessed it, Jonny has the opportunity to swap his brother Ted. Like most big brothers, Ted is better at everything and constantly belittles Jonny. In short he is annoying. So annoying that when he sees an advert for www.siblingswap.com, Jonny feels he has no option but to request a new brother.
Over the first half of the book, we are then introduced to a broad spectrum of new brothers. There’s a merboy, a boy who thinks he’s a meerkat and even the ghost of Henry VIII. As you might expect, Jonny soon comes to realise the a new brother doesn’t necessarily mean a better brother. Almost inevitably, Jonny comes to this conclusion and, in the process, learns more about himself and how to overcome his fears.
This is a fast-paced, filled with comic capers that will keep a child reading and guessing throughout. There’s something funny on each page which, although wasn’t always my cup of tea, will certainly entertain children. What child wouldn’t like the idea of The Hanging Pants Of Doom? As proof of this, a boy at school reading this keeps telling his friends about the jokes. It would be ideal for anyone from emerging readers taking their first steps into longer chapter books to children in the upper end of primary school.
But beneath all of this, there is a story about family. We can’t choose the family we have, but at the end of the day is that a good thing? Well I’ll let you decide on that.
Age Recommendation: 8-10 years
Paperback: 304 pages