Reviews /

Agent Harrier: This Book Will Self Destruct

Authored by Ben Sanders
Illustrated by Ben Sanders
Published by Little Tiger Press Group

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Agent Harrier: This Book Will Self Destruct is a graphic novel aimed at younger readers, possibly confident Key Stage 1 and upwards. It follows the canine spy Agent Harrier, who has been given orders by Top Dog to stop the book from exploding. As any spy should be, Harrier is equipped with top-of-the-range gadgets, including a watch, a hidden camera, wire cutters and various disguises. His mission is immediate: he gets to work by following a black and red wire (the only colours other than white and grey throughout the book).

Littered with clever puns – some hidden away, some in the style of a ‘nod-to-camera’ – Agent Harrier finds himself halfway through the book before he realises he has been tricked. But by whom? For me, this twist was a lovely play on graphic novels, and indeed spy, adventure, or humorous stories. It is here that Harrier begins conversing with the narrator, who in turn throws comments and questions out to the reader. It is a lovely way to entice children into sharing stories, and I could certainly see my 6-year-old son and his friends laughing through the various jokes and interactivity provided here. Moreover, the traditional format or layout of the graphic novel is played with here too, as characters break the frames and footnotes are introduced to continue the story.

My only (small and uninformed) concern would be around the colour scheme, and whether a largely black/red palette would be accessible to all readers. This may be misleading and is only a thought I had as I was reading – indeed, the author makes a joke to this end as dogs are known for their colour-blindness. Otherwise, this is a stylish, genuinely funny, and entertaining read – the kind that you could see becoming a successful series with younger readers.