Monday, 14 April 2014

Johnny Nothing by Ian Probert

The first thing you notice about this book is the pictures at the beginning of each chapter. Each is a full colour landscape-orientated scene or portrait. They really are works of art.

I read this story with my 7-year-old daughter over several bedtimes. She always wanted more. This is because the plot is easy to get to grips with and is in itself gripping too. There is a clear villain so she was rooting for the hero of the story, Johnny Nothing. I would say that with a little bit of language, and most of the adults in the story being smokers (although the author keeps reminding the readers not to smoke) I had to edit it a little bit, and it would be more suited to its audience if this was done at source.

The story begins with a funeral, that of Jacob Ermentrude Marley, the 296th richest person in the UK, quickly followed by a will reading. Johnny Nothing, so called because he has nothing, is one of the people there because Jacob was his uncle. A few adults are there too, including Johnny's parents. "When they looked at Uncle Marley they just saw money. Rolls and rolls of banknotes. Bundles and bundles of bunce. Loads and loads of loot. Dollops and dollops of dough. A stash of cash. A wagonload of wonga."

Johnny though isn't interested in the money, although he does inherit something, a cash card to an account with £1million in it. "Your task is to come back to this church in exactly one year's time and I want you to have more than £1million in that bank account. If you can manage to do that I will give you ten times what you have."

Only trouble is that his mother is "the worst parent of all time: the meanest, nastiest, smelliest, ugliest, sweatiest mother you could possibly imagine." She takes the cash card for safe keeping, but then goes on a never ending spending spree that is out of control, and Johnny, "an easy going, uncomplaining sort of boy, can do nothing. Things escalate and Johnny comes up with plans which fail. Even when he gets the cash card back things still escalate to leave his bank account with nothing in it. But there is a happy ending to the story of course. 

Overall then my 7-year-old daughter really enjoyed the story, but I think a little editing is required for the book to be totally suitable for its target audience.

(Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Publication date: 5 March 2014

Amazon UK link: Johnny Nothing

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