Walter Kettle is a normal, rather shy ten-year-old who lives an uneventful life. But all that changes when he’s bitten by a radioactive squirrel while tussling over a hazelnut. Now, whenever he chews on a nut –any nut – he changes into the agile superhero Squirrel Boy, complete with a gigantic, bushy tail. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Jeremy Winkleman-Grubb, a good-for-nothing layabout with a fondness for picking his nose, is up to no good. Thanks to a radioactive bug in his nostril, he can shape-shift into a Bogeyman, a disguise he deliberately makes use of in order to rob the town. Walter, helped by his 73-year-old neighbour Mrs Onions, is soon on to him, determined to bring him down. First, though, he must follow a preposterous training regime under the old lady’s robust guidance.
The story is accessible to reluctant or less able readers in both content and presentation. Fantastical and slapstick, it is boisterously funny, revelling in all things snot-related while also poking gentle fun at vegetarianism. The ending is clever, the ruse that brings down the Bogeyman thematically appropriate. The characters loom large, invoking emotions of sympathy for wimpy kid turned hero Walter, admiration for the age-defying old lady and repulsion for the slimy villain. The illustrations are in comic-book format, with the frames at times blank to mirror the story content when nothing happens. Chapters are short – in one instance only one line in length – and the print set large.