Everyone should read at least one book by Mark Haddon. And if you’re an anglophile like me, read more than one. He has written many books for children (and writes poetry), but his name became known outside of Britain with the “adult” book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
That book is often marketed to be about a boy on the Autism spectrum, but it’s much more than that. It’s a genre mash-up of mystery, bildungsroman, and dysfunctional family life. And it’s excellent. His other adult book, A Spot of Bother, is a very funny look at a family falling apart and then back together again. I almost want to call Haddon “Franzen super-lite.” He writes about families in a very funny, very cheeky British way.
Boom, Haddon’s latest book for children, also features some odd families and, more importantly, aliens. It’s so much fun. Haddon pokes fun at goth teenagers, unemployed dads who fly model planes all day, and sci-fi fans who find the idea of populating another planet just thrilling. Jimbo, the protagonist, and his best friend Charlie, stumble upon the aliens and do a little too much poking around. Charlie is captured by them, and Jimbo and his older sister Becky, who can’t go on an alien-hunting adventure until she purchases new eye-liner, must rescue him.
I want to recommend this book to many children. But they have to be able to appreciate the British humor and not be thrown off by the British slang and spellings. I remember reading once that the Harry Potter books were translated into American English for easier reading over here. Boom didn’t get that treatment, but it shouldn’t really keep any of us from enjoying it.
Mark Haddon's Website is a treat too.