What’s New Harper Drew is the first title in a new series of books written in diary format and joins the ranks of Dork Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, Lottie Brooks and so on.
All Harper Drew wants is a normal life with a normal family. Instead she has got a clumsy and incredibly excitable dad known for his inventing of dangerous children’s games, a mum who is obsessed with supermarkets, loves any excuse to ask a maths question and has a worrying fondness for bleach, and a brother who spends more time styling his hair then anything else in life and who is seen by their parents as some sort of golden child.
Even with this crazy family there’s still lots to look forward to in the summer holidays. First up is a holiday to France and then it will be Maisie Felix’s birthday party. But life is never straight forward for Harper Drew and where there’s a Drew there is drama…
Life is one big drama for Harper Drew, not that she is too thrilled about it. She finds herself at the heart of a family that raise catastrophe and disaster to new levels and most of the time she has no real idea what is going on or how everyone around her manages to act so ridiculously and thinks that their behaviour is perfectly normal.
It is hardly surprising that chaos and mayhem rule in the Drew household, after all, this is a family that Harper describes as a ‘Pick ‘N’ Mix’. Mum is a chocolate Brazil nut - nice, good for you, totally nutty underneath; Dad is popping candy - seems quite normal but without any warning causes chaos and mayhem and explosions. Everywhere; older and annoying brother Troy is a sherbet flying saucer - looks great on the outside, loved by everyone, but disappointing in the end; younger brother, ‘The Prune’, is a midget gem - small but awesome; and Harper is a fizzy cola bottle - strong and bubbly, mostly sweet but sometimes a bit too fizzy to handle.
Such is the regularity of the crazy behaviour of those closest to her, Harper has invented the ‘Drew Dial of Bizarre Behaviour’ - a scale where events, actions and people get scored out of ten - and there’s a lot of scoring to be done. Best friend Edward is a 0/10 whilst well-meaning Dad is a whole new level at 9/10 (and that’s on a relatively normal day).
Harper is not immune to the drama either and whilst each family member is causing chaos, she is obsessed with trying to gain an invite to Maisie Felix’s birthday festival of the year and fund-raising £5,500 to buy a stairlift for her best friend Edward, who has cerebral palsy, to ensure he has equal access to opportunities. But even fund-raising and birthday parties have their problems.
All too relatable with lots of eye-rolls and even more head-screams, Harper Drew’s observations of family life are out-right hilarious. Often left exasperated and even more often left dumb-struck, she is never lost for words despite finding herself regularly trying to comprehend the bizarre and often crazy behaviour of her family members. In a world of chaos and mayhem, she narrates her observations of the antics of her crazy family life during the school summer holidays with wit, warmth and an insane amount of LOLs.
This is a down-right funny book but is also so much more and Kathy Weeks weaves in some hard-hitting themes - hidden homelessness, unemployment and disability are all gently touched upon without ever coming across as preachy. In Harper, there is a girl who is more than up to dealing with these problems head on and Weeks empowers Harper to navigate life's tougher situations with a smile on her face.
Written in zany fonts and full of comedic illustrations, this very appealing first entry in the series is absolutely brilliant. It scores an 11/10 on the ‘Drew Dial of Bizarre Behaviour’ from me. More of Harper Drew’s crazy family life soon please Kathy Weeks!
With huge thanks to Hachette for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 9+.