Reviews /

The Unexpected Tale of the Bad Brothers

Authored by Clare Povey
Illustrated by Hélöise Mab
Published by Usborne

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Bastien Bonlivre makes a welcome return in The Unexpected Tale of the Bad Brothers, still reeling from events in the first book of the series (though this book can be read independently of book one: The Unexpected Tale of Bastien Bonlivre).

Set in Paris in the 1920s, Bastien and his friends at the orphanage set about solving the never-ending problem of Olivier Odieux, a man who uses his power to satisfy his own ends. Odieux’s wish is for more power, and through his articles in a national newspaper, plans to turn the French public against their president, Millefois.

Having dealt with Odieux in book one, Bastien knows that something is not quite right – Odieux has not simply changed character, and through a bit of detective work, and with the help of newcomer Mathilde, the gang make it their mission to stop Odieux and his brother in his tracks. The only problem is this time they may have bitten off more than they can chew.

Olivier Odieux is a well-written villain, full of charm, smarm and self-satisfaction. His deliberate acts of deception and misinformation might draw parallels to recent world leaders, something Clare Povey alludes to in her author notes, and Odieux’s actions and motives would make for interesting discussion around newspaper bias, trust in the media, and ascertaining facts before taking them as gospel.

Bastien, for his part, has personal reasons for his determination to defeat Odieux, but I really enjoyed the friendship between all of the children that remained strong throughout the book, something that reminded me of Blyton’s The Secret Seven. There were no bullies, no negativity between the friends, just a can-do attitude and a want for something better.

The Unexpected Tale of the Bad Brothers is a fast-paced, page-turner of an adventure, perfect for Year 5 and above, and I would look forward to journeying with Bastien again in the future.