Author: Mark Haddon
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Themes: Friendship, Adventure
Age Range: 4th-7th Grade
Summary: from Goodreads
From the moment that Jim and his best friend, Charlie, bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know there's an adventure on its way.
But what does "spudvetch" actually mean, and why do Mr. Kidd's eyes flicker with fluorescent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Perhaps Kidd and Pearce are bank robbers talking in code. Perhaps they're spies. Perhaps they are aliens. Whatever it is, Jimbo and Charlie are determined to find out.
There really is an adventure on its way. A nuclear-powered, one-hundred-ton adventure with reclining seats and a buffet car. And as it gathers speed and begins to spin out of control, it can only end one way . . . with a BOOM!
This middle grade book, originally published under a different title in 1992, is a fun, fast-paced romp full of dry humor and characters that any middle grade child could relate to. Jimbo is your average boy-suffering through school, hating his big sister and her greaseball boyfriend, worrying about his unemployed dad, and hanging with his best friend Charlie. Once they over hear that conversation in the teacher's room, his life becomes mystery! intrigue! aliens! Once the action starts, it doesn't stop...
This novel is a decent introduction go middle grade readers to the genre of science fiction. It is a quick, easy read with an easily understood plot. In fact, it is maybe a little too easy. Let's just say that the book is long on action and short on backstory. It is fairly simplistic, but for middle grade readers I suppose that is not necessarily a bad thing. The idea of an alien race that wants to repopulate their world with sci fi fans is pretty amusing, especially when Haddon starts throwing out Doctor Who references, which kids might not get but some adults certainly will. All in all, I think this is a great book to add to your classroom library.