Nat Luurtsema brings her comedic genius to the middle grade book scene in a laugh-out-loud read.
If, like me, you’ve wondered what animals were thinking and what they would say if they could communicate with humans, then wonder no more as Opie Jones has the amazing - and maybe somewhat useless - ability to read the minds of animals! Brilliant, well at least I think it is which is not a view shared by most of the other characters in the story. Speaking of…
Opie Jones is your average ten-year-old girl. She is responsible, sensible, loves routine, many would say boring and everyone would say that she is about as far as you could get from a superhero. But superheroes come in all forms and after being stalked on her way home from school by two mysterious strangers, Opie learns about a secret organisation of mind reading spies called The Resistance. Even better, she has the power to read minds too, impressive! What is less impressive is that unlike the rest of The Resistance, who can read human minds, Opie has the power to read animal minds.
Having the world’s most useless superpower is really frustrating until Opie learns of an evil super-villain with plans to turn her school into a warehouse that will be staffed by child workers. But can Opie, along with the advice of a not-so-crack-team of animals, learn to control her mind reading powers, protect her friends and save the school…
Beginning with a rather sassy opening from highly entertaining and slightly bad-tempered cat, Margot Von Catton, Luurtsema has the attention of the reader right from the get-go. What follows is a very enjoyable read that will be a hit with lovers of superheroes and animals. Black and white illustrations full of fun, warmth and wit by Fay Austin bring the personalities of the characters to life.
Opie is a great character who really develops throughout the story. Starting out as very shy and a bit of loner who is a stickler for rules, joining The Resistance brings out plenty of inner girl power as she strives to perfect her own mind control skills and teach the school children how to stop villain, Hugo Varling, from invading their minds. Lessons in determination, resilience and the importance of practice are all valuable for children.
Alongside trying to master her mind and prepare for battle against a superhero, Opie, like many children her age, is sailing the choppy seas of friendship. Jackson is supportive and the kind-hearted and good-natured friend she needs whilst Cillian is the frenemy who gets his deserved comeuppance even if Opie does perhaps go one step too far when getting back at him (is a swarm of flying ants too much?).
The cast of characters are diverse and references are made to children from different cultural backgrounds. Alongside the humans are a whole host of animals who I loved getting to know throughout the story including cockney pigeons, a guinea-pig therapist and some very outnumbered frogs. At the beginning of each chapter an animal pops up to have a quick chat to the reader and these little anecdotes had me cracking up on plenty of occasions.
Opie and friends will return for another adventure later this year.
Recommended for 9+.