This engaging, funny, and slightly surreal novel from Jennifer Killick introduces us to Mo and Lottie, two children whose lives are going to get a whole lot stranger than they ever imagined.
To write this review ‘spoiler free’ is no easy task, but suffice to say that Mo and Lottie are gradually drawn into becoming a team (after their respective mum and dad move in together) through attempting to solve the bizarre mysteries surrounding a woman who has moved into Mo’s old house, a rather odd lollipop man, and an ice-cream van which sells the most delicious sweet treats.
Mo’s and Lottie’s separate viewpoints detail the events as the story unfolds. It’s a neat device as the reader immediately befriends the pair, so easily do we get to know them; some particularly delightful characterization is introduced too as the children begin to accept each other for who they are – Lottie’s affectionate but slightly despairing tribute to Mo as ‘a boulder on legs’ was an especial favourite of mine. As the story develops, the children’s confusion regarding what is actually going on, matches our own befuddlement at the strange, seemingly unconnected happenings in the town.
It’s great to see science and human wonder put at the centre of a children’s fiction book. With recent novels – such as those by Christopher Edge – focusing on the almost incredible realities of scientific discovery as an integral part of the stories, Mo, Lottie and the Junkers touches on similar themes, though here as part of a humorous, madcap adventure. Nanoscience, Richard Feynman, and time travel are all incorporated with a light touch and discussion of these will encourage all kinds of scientific questioning.
This book clearly sets up the scene for a longer series. In this way, I found the ending rather inconclusive: although some of the story threads are tied up, there are many more mysteries yet to solve. I would also like to have seen more from the children’s parents: there are secrets to discover, I’m sure about both of them. Intriguingly too, some of the ‘Exhibits’ scattered throughout the book, have an apparently hidden connection to the children’s investigation. Readers will be sent right back to the start, once they have finished the book, to wonder about the relevance of these documents and some of their…idiosyncrasies, let’s say!
Overall, fans of this book will look forward eagerly to the next installment of the adventure and the revelations it will surely yield.
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