Choose Your Own Parents: The Parent Agency is Now OPEN!
When I was at school, David Baddiel was one quarter of the Mary Whitehouse Experience, which was cult viewing amongst my friends. We’d quote it endlessly. He’s had a hit record, several TV series with Frank Skinner, and he’s written some fantastic books (I can’t believe it’s been 14 years since I read Time for Bed).
And now he is adding a new string to his bow. David Baddiel, the children’s author. Not something I would have immediately thought of, given some of his previous work!
Today sees the doors to The Parent Agency thrown wide open, and here’s David to tell you what it’s all about:
I have to say, as the mother of an (almost) nine year old boy, I think he’s pitched it perfectly. There’s enough about the main character that Bean could identify with, but still enough he didn’t recognise in himself to want to find out more. There’s the ongoing thread of “Bum is not a swear!” (which has become a little skit in this house now), and some cheeky language (but not bad language) that made an (almost) nine year who wouldn’t dream of swearing raise an eyebrow in mock-shock. Reading it felt like Baddiel had captured the sense of humour of this age group perfectly.
There were moments of intense giggling – for both of us. We read it together – I was keen to see what Baddiel’s children’s book would be like, and didn’t want to have to search through Bean’s
bombsite bedroom to find it when he’d finished it!
I liked the fact that not all questions are answered, and some are not answered until the end – it meant that Bean could speculate on what that “fear, hope and something else he couldn’t quite put his finger on” was, and find out at the end that he was right about that. He could also speculate on what happens to children who have not chosen their parents by their tenth birthday – what dreadful fate awaits them? I’ll leave you to read the book to find out about that!
What did Bean like about The Parent Agency?
Bean liked the fact that you couldn’t guess where the story was going with each chapter, something surprising was always happening. He thought the story was pretty thrilling and he really liked the A Bombs (I have to agree on that one – we both love the kind of sweets Barry’s mother does not allow).
On the subject of choosing parents, he thought that would be really hard to do. Should he ever end up at the Parent Agency, he wouldn’t want the Five Parent Package, instead he’d prefer to be allowed to go through the profiles himself. He tells me, that no matter what he found there, he’d always choose Stonelaughter and I to be his parents. This boy knows which side his bread is buttered.
He thought Elliot and Mama Cool were daft; as adults, he thought they should have had more sense.
There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on – there’s something bad about having parents that let you do whatever you want. You can move away from them and live somewhere else and visit them when you felt like it. They would let you do it, even if they didn’t like it. But there’s a downside – they wouldn’t stop you doing things that were dangerous and it could be disastrous. So for Barry’s sake, I’m glad they lived …. well, you’ll see!
He thought some of the parents were too keen – trying to make Barry adapt to their ways before he had even chosen them. You can see, he thought about this quite a lot!
Bean says he would definitely recommend this book to other children, and for my part, I recommend it to parents – for themselves and their children. A great book, well thought out, well pitched for the age group, and with just enough of Baddiel’s humour coming through. As I was reading some of it out loud, my husband walked in and said “is that David Baddiel’s new book? It sounds just like him”, and it’s true, it’s written very much in his trademark style.
The Parent Agency is out today in hardback, Kindle edition and audio and here’s your chance to win a copy for yourself.
Disclosure: We were sent a pre-publication edition of The Parent Agency for the purposes of this review. The content of the review is wholly our own.