Tuesday 10 June 2014

The Case of the Exploding Loo by Rachel Hamilton

I collapse on to the sofa and stare at the newspaper headline.
Wiped out?
Dad hasn’t been ‘wiped out’. He’s gone mussing, that’s all. The reporter changed the facts to make a toilet-paper joke. That’s just rude.
Published in May 2014 by Simon and Schuster
Pages – 288
Quirky twelve year old Noelle (Know-All) Hawkins may be one of the brightest girls in her class but even she can't explain how her dad, wacky scientist Big Brain Brian, spontaneously combusted while sitting in a portaloo. It's true that he was working on a new top secret Brain Ray machine and was on the point of a great break-through when he vanished - could this have had something to do with his disappearance? Know-All is sure all is not as it seems and with the help of her sister Holly she is determined to find out what really happened to her dad!
When Professor Brian ‘Big Brain’ Hawkins mysteriously disappears during a portaloo explosion, leaving only his smouldering shoes behind as proof of identity, his daughter, Noelle takes it upon herself to find out what really happened. With an IQ of 157 and a photographic memory, she investigates the situation in true Sherlockian style, cleverly flavoured with her humorous interpretation of events as they happen. If Miranda Hart wrote Middle Grade fiction, then this is what she would write. With its toilet humour and ‘zany brainy’ wise cracks, this book had me giggling away to myself from start to finish.  With each new chapter, I thought it couldn’t get funnier, yet I would find another situation to laugh at. The illustrations only added emphasis to the hilarity of the plot.
All the characters lifted off the page, making them quirky, unique and easily identifiable. In fact, they were so well written, they could each star in their own novels. The one that outshines them all though, is Noelle, who proves that it is possible to be geeky and cool at the same time.  Her sister, Holly has a dangerous streak running through her veins, bringing humour to unlikely items such as a chainsaw.
The heart of the story is a mystery and I loved that at various intervals through the book there are recaps on all the clues that Noelle has discovered. There are lots of unusual connections such as the colour turquoise, which turn out to be vital to solving the case. The whole plot sets off at a manic pace, as the situation becomes more bizarre with each chapter.
Aimed at the 9 to 12 year old bracket, this book will appeal to all, including reluctant readers and adults who are still young at heart.

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