I must be honest, I tend to avoid books written by the celebrity/showbiz author brigade so this was the first title that I have read by David Baddiel and I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, I was more than pleasantly surprised, I absolutely loved it and based on this reading experience I will definitely be seeking out some of his other eight books.
Billy Smith is the most ordinary of eleven-year-olds who comes from the most ordinary of family’s. So when a TV crew turn up at his school to film new show School Daze Billy is certain that they will have no interest in him and his ordinary ways.
But this ordinary kid is destined for something extraordinary and after his very ordinary class presentation goes viral, Billy finds himself going from Billy Boring to ‘Relatabill’ - the most popular kid in school. With his mates Bo and Rinor by his side, Billy’s life is flipped on its head as he becomes the hottest property in town and is starring in fashion shows, attending movie premieres, eating at the poshest restaurants and holding out for the chance to meet A-list celeb Sunshine De Marto. But whilst fame certainly has its perks it also has its price and Billy is about to find out exactly what that price is…
I really enjoyed this cautionary tale of fame and the trials and tribulations of a very ordinary boy going from zero to hero; Hashtag OrdinaryBilly, Hashtag BillyTheNormo, Hashtag Relatabill. With the awesome illustrations of Steven Lenton, David Baddiel’s sharply observed and witty take on fame is funny, entertaining and epically unpredictable. There’s even the odd jibe at the television industry and celebrity culture which brought more than a wry smile.
With the power of social media these days, Billy’s experience could happen to any child. And whilst many children would no doubt love to enjoy some of the things that Billy gets up to, Baddiel also addresses some of the dangers of fame, not least how it can damage friendships and how it changes a person as they forget who they really are and what really matters to them.
Fame most certainly comes with a price for Billy and whilst he is busy embracing his celebrity lifestyle his friends are noticing him becoming someone he isn’t. With friendships beginning to strain, Billy fails to recognise jealous friends from concerned mates. Luckily for Billy, Bo is loyal to a fault and has not been blinded by the lights of fame. She is constantly looking our for her friend and trying to protect him from producers and agents who are keen to cash in on their latest star and the social media trolls with their unkind words. Fame may come and go but your friends will always be there for you when the lights have been dimmed and the groupies have moved on to the next big star.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be famous. Would it be possible to carry on leading a normal life and hanging out with friends or does fame really change who you are and how you live your life? After reading about Billy’s brush with fame I think I’ll leave the celebrity lifestyle to the likes of Sunshine De Marto.
Perfect reading for any child who’s ever fancied their five minutes of fame!
With huge thanks to Harper Collins for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 8+.