Friday, July 18, 2008

Children’s Books: The Detachable Boy by Scot Gardner

John Johnson keeps losing his head -- literally. And his feet and arms and legs. He is a detachable person -- and not, as he discovers, the only one. In fact, that’s the problem. When John’s friend, Crystal, is kidnapped by men in vinyl suits and taken to an underground base in America, full of detachable people being used as spare parts, he has to follow, while his parents think he’s on a school camp. He can’t afford to buy a plane ticket, but Ravi, his genius friend, designs a suitcase that will fit his bits and posts him to the U.S.

And that’s only the start of a story that becomes progressively sillier and funnier as it goes. It has the grossout factor that kids enjoy without ever becoming too disgusting. The characters are amusing (my favourite is the American pretzel-collector -- among his collection is one shaped like Elvis and another like the Eiffel Tower -- who helps John and Crystal). I did wonder how Ravi, who has a distinctly Indian accent, had a surname like Carter, but never mind. Suspend disbelief. The young readers won’t care.

Heath McKenzie’s delightful illustrations add to the story.

Scot Gardner’s The Detachable Boy (Allen & Unwin) is aimed at boys between the ages of nine and 12, but let the girls read it too -- they’re just as likely to enjoy it.

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