There have been many original stories published for children aged 7 to 9 year years in the past few years. This is certainly one of them. Duncan versus the Googleys would come near the top of this list for its quirky, wacky and original story-line which make it a very unique story. Duncan is sent to live with his Great-Aunt for the summer holidays, who is not pleased to see him. However, all is not what is seems in Arthritis Hall. With the help of the caretakers daughter Ursula, Duncan begins to unravel what is going on. This story will keep readers of all ages intrigued and engaged with its unravelling plot lines and all sorts of quirky ‘incidents’ where you never quite sure what will happen next. It comes with a warning that if you prefer linear and predictable stories this may not be for you:
“It is only fair to warn you, before we go much further, that so much in this story is upside down, backwards, twisted, devious and downright peculiar. It is not a story for the faint-hearted. …….If you are the kind of person who likes things to plod along in a predictable fashion from A to B then this story is not for you. I would suggest you go and do something useful instead, like sorting out your socks. ” (p12)
One of the fascinating things about Kate Milner’s story it the way an online game world is intertwined with the mysterious goings on in a big large house. Duncan loves playing a game called Poo-Chi Planet. So does an old lady called Mrs Pettigrew! Duncan has three gaming friends that live in other parts of the world: RatboyRyan ( Australia) Kobe (Kenya) and a Chinese girl called Zhang who lives in Shanghai. When Duncan and Ursula get into a tricky situation with an unusual robotic monster called Fluffkin, can the coding and hacking skills of his gaming friends help them understand this monster in time to save the day?
If this hasn’t already got your attention there is plenty more going on. Duncan’s Great-Aunt is gathering a collection of crooks and villains for her big plan. They are gathering under the disguise of a ‘Knitting Circle’. The illustrator had added some of her own illustrations which really help to bring some of the characters to life. The Great-Aunt also seems to have some way of seeing what goes on everywhere (well almost everywhere) in this big large house, but luckily for Duncan Ursula knows many secret passageways. There is also a plot to unravel about who the Googleys are and what their connection is to Arthritis hall.
There is both a directness and unique perspective to the narrative voice. Which helps to bring it all together. It provided just the kind of wry humour and observational perspectives that I needed to distract me in these extra-ordinary times we are currently living in.
I would highly recommend it to children and adults aged 8 to 88 years. Please note because the plot jumps about a bit, some less confident readers may need an adult to share this story with them – but then again they may be more than happy to be absorbed in all the quirky and slightly off the wall detail!
You can buy a copy from my small online bookshop, Readers that Care, here.
Thanks to Pushkin Press for a free copy to review. You can find about other books they publish here.