Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth
by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Recommended Ages: 10+
Together, they start a list of 10 reasons not to destroy the earth. Meantime, Prez hopes to spring his granddad from jail, even though he has nothing to guide him except a cryptic map his grandfather made of all the places they've visited. Sputnik shows Prez that gravity is more interesting than he knew, that the TV controller can fast-forward or rewind more than what's on TV, and other examples of the surprising things you can find out if you actually read the instructions to things. Together they capture a couple of burglars, lead a jailbreak (first going out, then back in), teach a real dog to speak English, cut down a tree with a child's toy and put it back together again, and build a leaning tower of haystacks. Their adventures are weird and wonderful, and eventually bring the voice out of a child who has been holding it in all his life.
I had a great time reading this book. It made me laugh out loud, and abounded in strange ideas and little-known facts. Under all the gags and special effects, it has a gentle, warm heart. But then, I've liked pretty much everything else I've read by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who won a Carnegie Medal for Millions. His other books for young readers include Framed, Cosmic, Desirable, The Unforgotten Coat, Triple Word Score, The Astounding Broccoli Boy, Runaway Robot, and four sequels to Ian Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.