Sam Wheeler is the new boy in town, but it’s a strange town. Everyone is engrossed with a new video game. A student at the local school has disappeared. Everyone seems busy trying to please the billionaire who recently moved in the the mansion on the hill. And of course there have been sightings of a mysterious figure wearing white racing overalls. Together with his friends, Minnie Cooper and Ford Harrison, Sam sets out to save the town once and for all.
When this book arrived through the letterbox last week, I was intrigued. It is, if you hadn’t twigged, a Top Gear spin-off. The cover and concept scream that this is a book aimed at reluctant boy readers. I must admit, I was a little skeptical as to whether I would enjoy this book. However, I was pleasantly surprised.
This is a Ronseal book – it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a fast-paced adventure full of cars. The action rattles along at a rate of knots with twists and turns at every corner. The characters, while not the most well-rounded, certainly gel together to create a typical cast – the hero, the trusty sidekicks, the bully, the teacher who strikes fear into the children’s hearts. It does everything right without being ground-breaking.
Now, the thing that stood out for me is the humorous side of the book. Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler play around with words in many ways. There’s the unsubtle swapping of letters (bunny fone instead of funny bone) to a more subtle play on everyday phrases. There is one glorious section which plays on Ford Harrison’s name which ends up namechecking just about every car Ford have ever made. This was just one occasions which had me smirking to myself on the train.
There is definitely a market for this book. It is a book which is accessible, but also has a story which will keep readers hooked. Like I said, this book surprised me and will be one which I will recommend to children. At sight of the book, I had a queue of boys in my class wanting to borrow it. Whatever you think of spin offs, this has got to be a good thing.
This review first appeared on Reading Zone. Thanks Caroline at Reading Zone and Piccadilly Press who organised a copy for me in exchange for and honest review.
Pages: 288 pages
Age Recommendation: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: Piccadilly Press