Book review

Sam and the Griswalds by Emma Barnes (2004)

Sam? He's got a fussy mother:

...'wrap up warm and toasty' and 'keep out of the draughts, dear, and sit still and don't run around'.

She kept him at home with the snuffles, so he missed the first week at his new school. That's bad, isn't it? No wonder he's moping in the garden, when he's finally allowed outside:

There was a cold hard lump in his stomach, like a block of ice, only it wasn't ice, it was misery. At that moment he would have given anything to have someone to talk to: a brother, a sister, a friend or even a pet.

It's OK, though. Things are about to liven up. He doesn't realize it yet, but the Griswalds have moved in next door.

'Yowwwwww!' Sam felt an excruciating pain somewhere above his left eyebrow. He leapt up, clutching his head. Pain shot through his hand. There was a horrible burning smell. And then, almost immediately, the pain stopped - or at least lessened.
This was good. What was not so good was that what felt like a gallon of cold water had just been tipped all over Sam, and most of it was streaming down his neck.
'Quick thinking, Spider,' said a voice from somewhere above Sam's head. There was a pause, then it added, 'Pity about the ginger ale, though.'

There's Spider, Jake and Elfrida Griswald. At the moment, they're up in Sam's treehouse, hiding from the law. That's because they've just burnt the bus shelter down, accidentally.

Alright, so they're a bit of a handful, but they're also friendly, loyal, outrageous, provocative - and supportive in the battle with the Bullock bullies.

Sam's about to get his life rearranged. No bad thing!

I really enjoyed this book. It's just a light read, but the characters feel real enough for it to matter what happens to them. 

What can I read next?

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I think you might like to have a look at the Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell:

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