This is part of a series of books on a ‘Help! I’m a…’ theme. Daniel Kendal is a character who has lots in common with the Wimpy Kid genre – a little bit beleaguered both in his family and in class with two quirky friends. He gets himself in a bit of a pickle when he finds himself having to enter a Brainiac competition and represent his school due to a mix up in the results. In fact his best friend and his family are rather surprised that he has got this far for different reasons. His friend is the brainy one and he is astonished that he has got through. His other friend – Freddo – is also rather astonished and upset that he has got through as he and Daniel have a pact about making sure they get the lowest marks in any tests. So Daniel has a fair few issues to overcome in the book.
It’s a quick funny read helped along by some great cartoons which add to the humour. Daniel is a kind of ‘pupil’s pupil’ and I think his character will appeal to many children because he finds his little brother gets everything he wants, his sister is moody etc and he feels somewhat left out. Having said that he has loyal friends and they do work together really well to try and find a solution to the problem of having to win this competition.
Meanwhile there is a back story about Dad trying to get work in America but he is the only one excited about that. The family themselves I think made me laugh the most especially the busy Mum who obviously doesn’t want to go to America either but is being very patient and trying to be supportive for her husband. I like the brainiac diet part – whilst they all eat something delicious, Daniel has to eat ‘broccoli smothered in walnut sauce with tinned sardines’… mmmmm!
All in all it’s a funny read which will possibly work for reluctant readers who enjoy Tom Gates and Wimpy Kid and like some illustrations with their book so it’s not too overwhelming. It’s also got the winning formula of being part of a series and I think the family and friends are drawn well enough for readers to want to know more about them.