Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Invisible Helpmeet: Margaret Meecham, Quiet! You're Invisible. New York: Holiday House, 2001.

Holiday House have sent me a batch of books and, as they are all pitched at that apparently "odd" age group, the 7-11s, (and are short... useful given that I have to deliver a book next month) you are likely to see a small flurry of blogging based on the parcel.

Meecham's Quiet! You'reInvisible. is a fairly slight story. Hoby Hobson is being bullied at school. When an alien boy lands (and turns up in his shower) the bully manages to capture the alien's spaceship battery. Hoby and Zirc's have to steal the test paper to bribe the bully to give it back. They try to lay a trap for him but it misfires and captures someone else, however, Mrs. Tinsley thinks the bully laid the trap and complains to his mother. Zircus gets his battery back and goes back into space.

I don't want to be too hard because the story is very well told. It's witty, fairly fast moving and with really lovely insights about being a small boy trying to be responsible and helpful around a pregnant mum (and her cries of "Yikes" with each contraction are perfectly judged).

But as science fiction this is a dead loss: not because Zircus could be a fantasy friend, but because everything the two boys try to do fails. Far from being a story of sf-nal competence (which even the spoof Captain Underpants series gets right) this is a tale in which things children can do get them into trouble and the only hope is rescue from parents.

I can see that this is true but ...


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