I loved Sam Copeland’s ‘Charlie Changes into a …’ series and was excited to venture back into his wonderful imagination that expertly tackles real issues with bags of humour and heart.
Uma’s life hasn’t been the same since her mum died. The household, that was once filled with happiness and love, is now miserable. Uma desperately misses her mum and really needs her dad but he has become sullen, has stopped speaking and is obsessed with his train set that has completely taken over the house.
With a head full of questions and no-one to answer them, Uma is at a loss until she stumbles upon Athena. Athena is an advanced artificial intelligence who knows absolutely everything. But before Uma has had the chance to ask what she needs to, she finds herself being pursued by the mastermind behind the technology who will stop at nothing to get it back. Will Uma get the answers that she really needs? Can she get her dad back? Why on earth does Stella Daw need Athena so badly?
Sam Copeland takes another big issue - the bereavement of a loved one and the aftermath - and explores the consequences on the family unit. Uma and the Answer to Absolutely Everything is hilarious and heart-warming, laugh-out-loud and touching, marvellous and moving. The brilliantly bonkers story, featuring footnotes, funny chapter titles - ‘Athena, What’s the Quickest Way to Put Out an Eyebrow Fire?’ - and fantastic illustrations is sure to delight a wide audience of readers.
The story is driven by a gripping mystery that pits Uma against an evil villain and a shady corporation who are intent on stealing her home and destroying her home town. Jam-packed with the kind of fun that everyone loves - a herd of drunk alpacas, tasty sweets (just don’t eat too many of them), the brilliant Alan Alan Carrington, failed attempts at shock therapy, a gun-toting maniac, dangerous drones and an eyebrow less dog - Copeland writes with an infectious energy that will easily keep readers engaged and racing through the pages.
Whilst the madcap antics and wildly silly storyline are brilliant, at its very large heart is an important story of a child dealing with grief and searching for answers. And it is Uma’s emotional journey and rekindling of the relationship with her dad that is the star of the story. Tackling grief, loss, depression and bullies, Copeland seamlessly uses humour to explore difficult situations that can affect children and opens the door for those very tricky conversations.
Whilst we may not all have a-know-it-all AI like Athena to help us through difficult times, Copeland leaves readers feeling that everything can be dealt with in the end. Another fantastic read!
Recommended for 8+.