Jennifer Killick is the author of the Alex Sparrow series and this is her first book in a brand new series. This was also my first venture into her wild and wacky imagination, and what an outrageously fun place it is. This had me laughing out loud one minute and then on the edge of my seat the next. If Killick’s imagination is driven by her real life experiences then she is having an absolute blast.
I’m not normally a huge fan of sci-fi books, it is just not a genre that I can relate to. I wasn’t raised on Star Wars, Star Trek and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. What Killick does is makes sci-fi accessible and enjoyable through genuinely brilliant storytelling. I loved the references to Katniss (Hunger Games), Minecraft, a tesseract (Marvel), Gringott’s (Harry Potter) and I even picked up on the Gandalf reference (I’m not into Lord of the Rings either).
Mo has never met his father and Lottie’s mother has disappeared. And now Mo’s mum and Lottie’s dad have become a couple and decided that the families should move in together. Mo is getting two sisters he doesn’t really want; Lottie who is excitable, impatient, bossy and loud and Sadie who only speaks cat. Mo is smart, shy, kind, just a bit scared and would really rather be left alone. The banter between Mo & Lottie is hilarious and typical brother and sister stuff. Lottie is full of attitude and is more than happy to make fun of Mo at every opportunity; sarcastic comments are frequently passed between them. I loved how this new family dynamic is explored as it is so relevant to many children today.
The story is told from a dual perspective in the style of a vlog - this is the first book I have read of this kind. The action is fast paced and each vlog entry is full of hilarious insights into the minds of Lottie & Mo and each entry is written in the unique voice of each character. Together they must overcome their initial animosity towards each other and solve a mystery. They must find out why the new neighbour who has moved into Mo’s old house across the street keeps the curtains closed, why the ice-cream tastes like heaven and is so addictive, deal with an incompetent and rather angry lollipop man, figure out why the new boy at school looks exactly like a boy in a photograph from several years earlier, win a Science competition and hopefully save the world from the Junkers. In Mo, Lottie & the Junker, Jennifer Killick gently and light-heartedly explores the new family dynamics that evolve when two broken families become one united family. She looks at the quirks of step-parents and step-siblings and how children negotiate their new environments. There is also the added inclusion of a character with mental health issues which is sensitively explored.
I really enjoyed how the book was peppered with exhibits of the clues and evidence that Mo & Lottie uncovered. It allows the reader to try and solve the mystery alongside the characters. I even managed to solve a clue linked to the notes!
Perfect reading for all children in grade 3 and up. Remember to be on the alert for Junkers and always be on your guard when you hear, “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf…’”
Recommended for 8+.