Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket: A Whimsical Middle-Grade Read

Alistair and Eleanor Brocket pride themselves on being absolutely normal. They have normal jobs, a normal house, a normal dog, and two normal children, and they turn their noses up at anything out of the ordinary.

Then Barnaby is born, and he's anything but normal. From the moment he is born, Barnaby defies the laws of gravity, and he floats. After 8 years of being horrified by this absolute defiance of everything that is normal (normal children manage to keep their feet firmly on the ground), the Brockets make the terrible decision- they cut his weights and send him floating off into the air like a balloon. At first Barnaby is frightened, but what ensues is a remarkable journey around the world that introduces Barnaby to a cast of unusual characters, and teaches him that maybe being different isn't so abnormal after all.

John Boyne, who ever since The Boy in the Striped Pajamas has been a favourite author of mine is back with another  sweet, middle-grade offering.

Barnaby is a sweet and charming character. From the moment he exits the womb and floats up to the ceiling, his parents set to work trying to make him "normal". Other than the floating thing (which is unusual), Barnaby is a typical little boy with a big heart and an accepting nature. He accepts his new circumstances without fuss or tears, and he simply sets about trying to find a way back home. While he understands that his parents did a terrible thing, it's still home, and where else would an eight-year-old go?

The characters he meets are diverse and interesting, and not all of them are kind. More than once he encounters someone who would exploit his difference, or simply mistreat him, but amazingly, he never wavers from his goal. I particularly like that while all of his encounters are brief (some lasting only a day or a few hours), he manages to touch the lives of so many of the people he meets, as much as he is touched by them.

 In an age where teaching children to accept all kinds of people is more than essential, this book fits perfectly, and they will enjoy the imagination and the fanciful storyline. Overall it is an enjoyable and whimsical story, but- and this is a big one-  I also found the message to be so front and centre all of the time that I found myself practically shouting "Ok- I get it!" by the end of the book, and this really detracted from my ability to completely lose myself in it.

Recommended, but a bit too obvious for my taste.