This is the first novel by Jenny Pearson and it is an action comedy that races along at an exciting pace from start to finish, with plenty of laughs and a few tears along the way – accompanied by the typically terrific illustrations of Rob Biddulph.
Freddie lives with his rather lazy adopted dad and is bereaved not only of his mum but also of his beloved Grams. When an opportunity to find his birth father arises, it seems sensible to grab his two best friends and set off on their own to Wales. It’s a long way to Wales and the journey is chaotic, catastrophic and, occasionally, miraculous.
On their way to meet Freddie’s birth father, the three friends make many new acquaintances, each more wacky than the last, and some more helpful than others. Though, to be fair, if you attend onion-eating competitions and raid abandoned churches, you are bound to meet some strange characters!
The book evokes similar feelings to the kind of road-trip buddy stories that usually feature shameless young men, throwing the characters into a series of unlikely and unfortunate scenarios and testing the bonds of friendship to breaking point. But, for Freddie, his mates are his family and not even exploding toilets or angry gangsters could keep them apart for long.
Though the tone is light-hearted throughout, it is a sensitive story with powerful moments of tragedy that are well crafted. The farcical scenes play out brilliantly, with impeccable comic timing and many laugh-out-loud moments. It’s perfectly pitched for older primary pupils and young teens: Pearson seems to revel in describing the boys’ juvenile dialogue, and leaves out none of the gross bits…not even the toxic fumes from onion-scented bum blasts!
Freddie’s journey is certainly super and Pearson has much to offer the children’s comic caper genre.