Reviews /

The Underpants of Chaos

Authored by Sam Copeland & Jenny Pearson
Illustrated by Robin Boyden & Katie Kear
Published by Penguin Random House Children's UK

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With a bright and colourful cover, this new series will be an appealing book. The Underpants of Chaos introduces a dynamic duo, Agatha and Lenny, and follows the first of their entertaining adventures encountering military chickens, strangulating underpants and Transylvanian gargoyles as they battle to save their hometown of Little Strangehaven from being utterly destroyed. The reader gets to see each of their perspectives through alternating chapters and discover the reason for these strange events. Who is behind the shivers at the Strangehaven primary school and what is the reason for such strange happenings? This is the main plot for the story, the main suspects being the headmaster, the librarian and the lady from the automated librarian services…Minerva. Who can it be?

The characters are well defined and the reader learns about each of the protagonist’s backgrounds as the story progresses, and each develops during the story. Agatha’s family has been expanded by the addition of twins and at the beginning of the story she is both sleep-deprived and having to fend for herself as her parents are tied up looking after the babies. Lenny is also in need of friendship following the separation of his parents and the continuing absence of his father who repeatedly lets him down by not fulfilling the access arrangements which have been agreed. Both are issues that some young readers may identify with. Together they form a mutually supportive team in order to start their adventure.

Black and white illustrations throughout add further detail – the artists’ styles are different from one another, but the transitions from one partnership to the other complement each other and children will enjoy studying all of the pictures throughout the book, which will add to the fun.

The Underpants of Chaos is perfect for confident readers in Year 4, or as a shared read either as a bedtime story or with a classes in Year 2, Year 3 and Year 4. The font is an accessible size for less confident readers.

Shortlisted for the Spark Book Awards 2023 Fiction for Readers 7+