Review Blog

Feb 05 2018

I swapped my brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons

cover image

Ill. by Nathan Reed. Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408877753
(Age: 7+) Highly recommended. This laugh out loud novel starts with a pop up ad that immediately grabs the attention of nine-year-old Jonny, and also the reader. Who hasn't dreamed about getting rid of their annoying sibling at one time or another? For Jonny, of course he was going to click! The website opens and is filled with pictures of brothers and sisters playing and laughing together. Jonny begins to fill in the form . . . but in his haste fails to tick the box that says "living", and the one that says "human" (I mean that was obvious, wasn't it?) so begin to send Jonny a line of increasingly bizarre replacements for his brother Ted. Jonny finds himself trying to make do with a merboy, a boy raised by meerkats and then the ghost of Henry the Eighth! The only person Jonny can trust with his secret is his best friend George, who finds all of it very interesting compared to life helping his Dad in a fish finger factory.
This story will have young readers, or whole classrooms full of kids in peals of laughter. Every child will be able to relate to wish fulfilment gone wrong. As the brother replacements begin to get more and more weird, Jonny begins to figure out that Ted is really okay after all . . . at least compared to his replacements. Teachers could use this as a gateway for talking about relationships, sibling rivalry, trust or jealousy. Jonny is forced to look at some of his annoying habits too, so could be used as a means for self reflection.
The story is easy to read, and well put together. Readers will find it hard not to giggle as King Henry tells Jonny off for being a potty-mouth about his Cockapoo named Widget.
This book is highly recommended, please read it to your children or your class.
Clare Thompson

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