“People used to call them 'friends' and said how they were good for your brain. And then a day came when all that changed . . . when they became our enemy.”
Published by Oxford University Press in February 2014
Pages - 256
Thirteen-year-old Joseph Reece has a secret, something too awful to admit to his best friend, Rocky, or his dad. He is plagued by a rogue imaginary friend called Klaris Cliff who comes into his brain and tells him what to do. Although she is benign and her advice is always passive, Klaris is a ‘rogue’ imaginary person because she has been a ‘friend’ to Flea, the seven year old boy next door, for a long time.
The trouble is, as soon as word gets out that Joseph has been infiltrated by Klaris, the authorities are alerted. There has been a very nasty incident elsewhere that nobody wants repeated. So Joseph and Flea are in for the COSH which is, according to the book blurb “an operation that fries your imagination and zaps whatever is in there, out of existence”!
Flea is one of five children, all with very individual names (Pooh, Rocky, Flea and identical twins Will and Egg) who live in the adjoining house to Joseph and his dad. Flea’s dad, Dr Cliff, has compiled a list of misdemeanours he claims have been perpetrated by Klaris against his unusual and somewhat dysfunctional family.
Joseph and Flea set out to disprove these claims and the tension builds as the day of the COSH approaches.
Meanwhile, Joseph’s mum has gone to Spain to live, temporarily she assured Joseph at the time, although she has been gone for several years. She promised to return for his eleventh birthday two years ago, but she didn’t arrive. Joseph is disappointed, but cherishes her postcards and misses her terribly.
Who Framed Klaris Cliff? is a heart-warning story, told in the first person through Joseph’s eyes and takes place over only six days. The book is full of fantastic relationships (Joseph with Dad, Joseph with Rocky, and latterly Joseph with Flea, for instance); believable and funny characters; eccentric children; just enough baddies to make life very unpleasant at times; some great humour mixed with the fear of the forthcoming COSH and the pathos of Joseph’s missing mum.
This is clever writing, with excellent plotting and an unexpected twist at the end. It is not too long, has lovely short chapters, and is easy to read – I read it in one go! I would wholeheartedly recommend this, Nikki Sheehan’s first children’s novel, to any readers aged nine and upwards.