Alfie Fleet lives with his mother in a small flat and they are extremely poor. His mother works at the local fish market, so they tend to eat a lot of fish soup. Now Alfie wants to buy his poor mum a foot spa as a birthday present and has been playing the stock market (using the library computers) to make the money, but he is still a bit short of cash. When he sees a job advert that will provide just what he needs Alfie applies for the job. What he did not expect was the totally eccentric Professor Bowell-Mouvement (this sets the tone for the book) and the ability to travel through portals to discover new planets. However the main focus is on trying to find the way back to our own world, after Alfie had accidently destroyed the one they had originally travelled through.
This is a brilliantly funny story about a quest in worlds that we are only too happy don’t really exist. Alfie is a quick and intelligent young boy who is able to talk his way out of most situations, mainly ones that the Professor has got him in to. There is the sense of a quest in that the two explorers keep adding to their company along the way. I love the way that Alfie can make even the most terrible, dirty and unhygienic place into somewhere that will appear in a travel brochure. It is very much a story about not giving in to tyrants, including large developers and about the importance of friendship and helping one another. Chris Mould has once again produced a series of highly amusing illustrations in his very recognizable style; he really brings Alfie alive, so that the reader is instantly on his side. It is a rip roaring tale of adventure and perhaps saving worlds, but above all it is a fantastically funny tale that middle graders are going to love. I look forward to further adventures.