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This issue’s cover shows Neil Gaiman (photo © Kelli Bickman) with his book The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch illustrated by Dave McKean. Neil Gaiman is interviewed by Nicholas Tucker. Thanks to Bloomsbury for their help with this November cover.
Hurricane Wills starts with a terrible ‘smashing, trashing, bashing’ through the house. This is 13-year-old Wills who has Attention Deficit Disorder and is big for his age. Alternatively babyish and clinging on the one hand and aggressive and out of control on the other, Wills is a difficult brother to have, especially for Chris, a studious boy who prefers a quiet life. On her website, Sally Grindley who won the Smarties Prize Gold Medal for Spilled Water, her second book for older readers, tells us that a librarian told her the story of a boy who came to her library to do his homework because it was impossible at home and this is how the idea of Wills was born.
Told from Chris’ point of view as if he is writing his own life story, the reader learns how Chris always has to be the good son, mum’s little superstar and when the brothers spend the weekend with their dad, it is Wills who grabs all the attention. Wills is gullible and easily led into trouble by his nasty, so-called friends and when Chris finds a lot of money under his brother’s bed, he knows that he has to help him. The climax of the story is packed with action: a basketball tournament, a theft and an attack on a librarian by his criminally minded friends, a serious accident which puts Chris in hospital and a kind of reconciliation between the two brothers and the family.
I wasn’t so keen on Chris’s much repeated nickname for Wills’s ADD – ‘Act Daft and Dumb’ and I’m not sure that the reader will have any greater understanding of this complicated condition by the end of the story. But Hurricane Wills is a quick, lively read that will be of interest to a wide range of readers – juniors who like a story with an older character, those with a problematic sibling, and perhaps reluctant readers who will appreciate the big print and the many elements that make up this book. LK