Review Blog

Feb 01 2010

Ctrl-Z by Andrew Norriss

cover image

Puffin, 2009.
(Ages 8+) Alex's godfather always sends fantastic presents and this year's birthday gift is a laptop that allows Alex to travel back in time to correct any mistakes he's made. All he has to do is input the time he wishes to return to and press Ctrl-Z. This is not just an amazing present, it's also rather useful, especially when you have an accident prone best friend called Callum. When Alex first uses Ctrl-Z he successfully reverses a nasty accident involving Callum, 43 helium balloons, a garden chair and a barbeque.
Alex is so delighted with his laptop that he decides to experiment a little. He is only ten but has always wanted to drive his Mum's prized classic car and now he can. When he smashes into the gatepost he can simply press Ctrl-Z and travel back in time to before he climbed into the driving seat.
Ctrl-Z allows Alex to go back in time by a maximum of 23 hours and 59 minutes, but that's still enough to have plenty of fun. However, when the two boys use the laptop to win every prize at the School Fair things do not go according to plan, and then Alex finds himself having to use Ctrl-Z to try and reverse the growing rows between his parents.
This is an entertaining story, ideal to read aloud to lower juniors. There is plenty of humour, excitement and cliff-hangers to keep young readers on the edge of their seats. The central message, that it's good to make mistakes because that is how we learn, is emphasised and hopefully children will enjoy the fun and absorb the message too. My only grumble is that Ctrl-Z would have been even better with illustrations, but I guess that would have cost more; perhaps the credit crunch is biting publishers too!
I've always enjoyed Andrew Norriss's funny, pacy books, and if any of your readers are glued to Horrid Henry or Captain Underpants, Ctrl-Z may encourage them to spread their wings.
Claire Larson

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