Fresh new look for Frank Cottrell Boyce’s fabulous fiction - book reviews

Fresh new look for Frank Cottrell Boyces fabulous fictio
Fresh new look for Frank Cottrell Boyces fabulous fictio

Spring might not yet be here but comic genius Frank Cottrell Boyce is certainly putting a spring in the step of young readers this month with new editions of his award-winning collection of laugh-out-loud fiction from Macmillan Children’s Books.

The inventive funny man behind the 21st century return of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and one of the masterminds behind the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, has exhilarated and entertained thousands of youngsters with his series of hilarious books which began with the much-loved The Astounding Broccoli Boy.

This new-look paperback collection, priced at £6.99 each and which also includes Millions, Framed, Cosmic and Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, has been redesigned with fresh and contemporary covers by Cottrell Boyce’s talented illustration team-mate Steven Lenton.

This dynamic duo have also been collaborating on The Great Rocket Robbery, a shorter length story priced at £1 for World Book Day on March 7. And Cottrell Boyce’s next standalone novel, Runaway Robot, is due to be published in May.

Written for the nine -plus age group, Cottrell Boyce’s eclectic mix of books offer fun-filled, action-packed adventures and carry warm-hearted, wise messages for youngsters from all walks of life.

The Astounding Broccoli Boy

He’s green by day and a hero by night… colourful schoolboy Rory Rooney is setting out on an unforgettable voyage that will change the way he sees the world.

Rory doesn’t like surprises. He’d rather be prepared for all eventualities and relies on his favourite and well-studied book Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared which offers advice on any problem. In fact, Rory has memorised every page of it. He could even survive a hippo attack. He knows that just because something is unlikely doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen.

But Rory isn’t prepared when he suddenly and inexplicably turns green after an unfortunate incident on a geography field trip. Stuck in an isolation ward with two other remarkably green children in a hospital far from home and family, poor Rory is as confused by his new condition as the medics seem to be.

Is it genetic, an allergy, something all the children ate or maybe an alien life form? But, hang on a minute, what if turning green actually means you’ve turned into a superhero?

Family and friends, the power of the imagination, tackling bullies and learning that real heroes come in every shape and size are just some of the themes covered in this delightful, laugh-out-loud reading odyssey.

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth

It’s a mad, mad, mad world … particularly when Frank Cottrell Boyce is our guide to the galaxy!

Packed with fascinating space facts, out-of-this-world adventures, madcap humour, crazy antics and an irresistible cast of unforgettable characters, Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth has a gravitational pull for ‘kids’ of every age and generation.

But this eclectic, offbeat story is about so much more than laugh-out-loud ideas and comic capers; Boyce also tells us about the power of the imagination, friendship, belonging and the impact of dementia on families.

The Blythes are a big, warm family who live on a small farm in rural Scotland and sometimes foster children. Now Prez Mellows has come to live with them because his grandad ‘had to be taken away.’ Although he seems cheerful and helpful, Prez never says a word.

Then one day Prez answers the door to someone claiming to be his relative. This small, loud stranger carries a backpack, wears a kilt, walks with a swagger and goes by the name of Sputnik. Amazingly, the family pat Sputnik on the head, call him a good boy and drop food into his mouth. It seems they all think Sputnik is a dog. It’s only Prez who thinks otherwise.

But Prez soon finds himself having to defend the family from the chaos and danger unleashed by Sputnik as household items come to life. It looks like Prez is going to have to use his voice to explain himself.

A simply brilliant story straight from the fertile imagination of the amazing Mr Cottrell Boyce.


An accidental train robbery and a suitcase full of cash are the perfect ingredients for adventure in another fresh, funny and touching story of a not-so-great train robbery.

Two brothers, Damian and Anthony, are unwittingly caught up in a train robbery during Britain's countdown to joining the Euro. Suddenly finding themselves with a vast amount of cash, the boys have just one glorious, appalling dilemma – how to spend it in the few days before it becomes worthless.

Torn between the vices of buying a million pizzas and the virtues of ending world poverty, the boys soon discover that being rich is a mug's game. For not only is the clock ticking, the bungling bank robbers are closing in too. Pizzas or world peace – what would you choose?

Gentle, clever and with brilliant flashes of irony hidden between the lines…


The perfect crime is a work of art in another clever caper from the master storyteller.

Dylan is the only boy living in the tiny Welsh town of Manod. His parents run the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel garage and when he’s not trying to persuade his sisters to play football, Dylan is in charge of the petrol log.

That means he gets to keep track of everyone coming in and out of Manod… what car they drive, what they are called, even their favourite flavour of crisps. But when a mysterious convoy of lorries trundles up the misty mountainside towards an old disused mine, even Dylan is taken aback. Who are these people, and what have they got to hide?

Framed was inspired by a press cutting describing how, during the Second World War, the treasured contents of London’s National Gallery were stored in Welsh slate mines. Once a month, a morale-boosting masterpiece would be unveiled in the village and then returned to London for viewing.

The book offers a funny and touching exploration of how art – its beauty and its value – touches the life of one little boy and his big family in a very small town, and also includes bonus material and discussion questions with the author.


He wanted to see the world… but not quite like this.

Cosmic is a brilliantly funny, out-of-this-world story featuring one giant leap for all boy-kind as Cottrell Boyce lets his imagination take flight.

Liam Digby is too big for his boots… and his football strip, and his school blazer. But being super-sized height-wise has its advantages! Liam is the only eleven-year-old to ever ride the G-force-defying Cosmic rollercoaster, or to be offered the chance to drive a Porsche.

Long-legged Liam competes with a group of adults for the chance to go into space. Is Liam the best boy for the job? Sometimes being big isn’t all about being a grown-up.

Boyce’s sharp eye reveals just how children see the world of adults in this gloriously funny and clever story which takes readers to space and back, and makes us laugh and cry along the way.

This edition of Cosmic also includes bonus material and discussion questions with Cottrell Boyce.

The Great Rocket Robbery

Cottrell Boyce and Steven Lenton have also blended their considerable talents on this action-packed adventure story for this year’s World Book Day which aims to ignite a love of reading in all young people.

Before the first man on the moon… there was a mutt on the moon!

Laika and her fellow street dogs are being trained for the greatest adventure in history… a trip to the moon. But Laika can’t wait to see the stars so she hatches a plan with her friends to get her there all on her own!

Children will be over the moon when they join Laika and her canine friends for this rocket-fuelled romp which sees Cottrell Boyce at his wittiest and warmest best.