Shrunk! is the debut novel of F R Hitchcock, and one of the launch titles from new publisher, Hot Key Books. It’s easy to see why this was chosen: it’s a funny, original and very satisfying story and sure to prove a hit with young readers.
Eleven-year-old Tom is struggling to settle in to a new home. He, his parents and younger sister have moved to live with Granny in a quiet seaside town, alongside Granny’s pride and joy, a model village. Bywater-by-Sea is pretty little place, and one which seems to be populated by any number of eccentrics.
The book opens not with a bang but a shrinking: out star-gazing with Granny, Tom sees a meteor crash to land. He’s quick to pick a fragment up, and discovers that with it in his hand he can shrink things – starting entirely accidentally with the planet Jupiter, which is soon a shiny, sparkling globe in his pocket. Well, what would you do? Tom tries out his new power on everything from boats and a large, plastic hot dog, to squirrels, cows and a donkey. Things reach a climax when Tom is forced to shrink the school bully, Jacob. Meanwhile, the gap left by Jupiter is causing astral chaos.
As Tom is finally forced to come clean to Granny, who has had her suspicions all along of course, the various plot strands are woven together adroitly and in the most satisfying way. We learn that Tom is not the first person in Bywater-by-Sea to have found a meteor fragment, or to have wished on it (because of course he did), or to have the wish granted in an unusual way. Young readers will race to the end, finding lots to laugh at, and lots to think about, along the way.
Read our Q&A with F R Hitchcock here.