Shamefully, I’ve never read anything by Frank Cottrell Boyce before. I was expecting a light, humorous read. Considering what I knew about the rest of the Carnegie list, I decided to leave it until one of the last; a bit of light relief. I was half-right…
Sputnik’s guide to life on Earth is a story of Prez- a young boy living with a temporary foster family- and Sputnik- an alien who arrives at his door one day with a very important mission. Unless they can come up with a list of ten amazing things on Earth, it will be destroyed… But Prez has a mission of his own.
What I liked about this book was the fact it had real heart. When Prez first arrives at the Blythes’ house, he doesn’t speak. He lived with his grandfather until he had to be taken away. He lives with a lovely family, but he knows he’s just a temporary. What he finds in Sputnik is a friend. A friend that everyone apart from him sees as a dog (I genuinely found this hilarious) and that causes complete havoc (think transforming a fake light-saber into a real one, and then giving it to an excitable birthday girl…), but a friend nevertheless.
Adventure aside, I never expected to find a children’s novel that dealt so well with difficult themes, such as foster care and Alzheimer’s disease. Anything that features Alzheimer’s has alarm bells ringing for me, but this really was handled masterfully, particularly considering its young audience. It probably wouldn’t have worked so effectively had it not have been so deeply rooted in humour. A fantastically crazy, poignant story.
One to go!