In ‘Mike’ Andrew Norriss has crafted another beautiful story. I started reading this book on the first day of my half-term holiday and finished it that same day. As a child I was labelled a ‘reluctant reader’ by one of my primary school teachers. She was wrong, I was not reluctant to read, only reluctant to read the unedifying books she suggested. If stories like ‘Mike’ had been available and pushed my way, I would have devoured them at ten years old in the same way I did today.
As a primary school headteacher with many years of teaching year 6, this is a book I would have read to my class and whilst it would undoubtedly make a good guided read with an able group of older pupils, I would have used it as a class read as it generates questions that would have been great to tackle altogether.
The book centres around a likeable character called Floyd who has a talent for tennis. He is in fact so talented that he is being tipped to be the next big thing in British Sport. As with all good novels there is however, a complication. The problem is Floyd’s ‘friend’ Mike; when Mike appears only Floyd can see him! Who is Mike and what does he want with Floyd?
I absolutely loved the way the story tracks Floyd’s young life and thoroughly enjoyed following the relationships that he has with his parents, with Mike, with Tennis and ultimately with Charity.
This book captured my imagination and I was unable to put it down; that on its own is such a special feeling. When the book is written by the most inspiring teacher that you ever had the good fortune to have worked with, it makes it all the more special. At school I failed all my O’Levels and at Peter Symonds College I re-took them. With Andrew Norris as my teacher in Commerce, I went from a grade U in 1984 to a grade A in 1985. Mr Norriss helped and guided me when I was a bit lost and helped me find my way back on track – just as Mike did for Floyd.
This really is a beautiful story.
A message from the publisher David Fickling
‘This novel is one of the most extraordinary things I have read. Andrew writes with the lightness of a feather, yet conveys meaning the depth of an ocean. I urge you to read it! Whether a parent, a child or simply a human being, this book will transform you – oh, what a wonder of a writer Andrew Norriss is!’
I will now go out and purchase a copy of another recent book by Andrew Norriss, ‘Archie’s Unbelievably Freaky Week’, as the review by John Lloyd has whet my appetite;
Archie Coates has the most amazing talent for trouble, and whatever he does in all innocence, it’s other people that suffer. On Monday he ends up with a teacher sitting on him, on Tuesday another one ends up half-naked. Both these and a lot more are shown with all the justification you need – and more humour than you could wish for – in this brilliant little book.
As you can tell it’s one mishap after another for a remarkable boy and his friend Cyd. Fires, knife attacks, dangerous animals – health and safety would have a category just for him. But his extraordinary abilities don’t stop there – as the week that sees him drive away supply teacher after supply teacher progresses, he even turns into a dog.
Andrew Norriss is another with brilliant talents too. Structured as seven short stories, with a set pattern in beginning and end, the book, however small, burgeons with wacky invention, cleverness – and, as I say, a delightful amount of humour. Never getting too silly, or slapstick, it just hits the mark and moves on, forever sprightly, always believable, and surprising to the end.
It has a weird fixation on ending up minus your clothes, something thankfully not carried over into the excellent illustrations. All the same this freaky week is a charming way for youngsters to spend some time. It’s a finely-judged success, and on its way to being my favourite title for the under-tens for quite some time.
Review written by Tom Donohoe