Book review: Oliver Fibbs: Attack of the Alien Brain by Steve Hartley

Lancashire children’s author Steve Hartley has been voted ‘Coolest Dude of the Year’ for five years running, so it’s always best to expect the unexpected when you open one of his amazing books.

The madcap mastermind behind the astronomically popular Danny Baker Record Breaker series is on a mission... to get boys reading. And Oliver Tibbs (better known as Oliver Fibbs) could be just the anti-hero to make those reluctant young males turn over a new leaf.

Oliver is not brilliant at anything except telling fibs (and that’s no lie!) and his hair-raising adventures, played out in hilarious comic strip style, are full of that all-important touch of anarchy that will appeal to mischievous boys.

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Attack of the Alien Brain is the launch pad for the first series and is aimed at the seven to nine age group in which reading alone is becoming an important step.

Steve Hartley is heading to various Lancashire schools, including Ormskirk’s West End Primary and CE Primary School on Thursday January 17, to spread a few home truths about his fabulous, funny and fibbing new creation.

And Oliver Fibbs really is a boy that many youngsters can identify with. Everyone in his family seems to be super-brilliant at something, whether that’s chess, ballet, brain surgery or architecture, but he’s not brilliant at anything.

Show and Tell (or as he calls it, Pain and Torture Time) is his worst nightmare. He hasn’t got a black belt at karate or made a mega-powerful electro-magnet. All he’s good at is reading comics and eating pizza, and he’s fed up with being Dull and Boring, so he’s hatched a plan.

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He’s been telling the class about his adventures as a Defender of Planet Earth, battling against the evil Alien Brain Drain who wants to take over the world. Everyone loved it, except Miss Wilkins who gave him a detention for telling fibs. And now his parents think he’s ‘going bad’ even though he keeps telling them they’re not fibs, they’re just stories!

With its easily accessible text design and its key comedy content, Hartley’s exciting and inventive new series is the perfect way to get boys interested in reading... and to keep them glued to the story well beyond the first page.

(Macmillan, paperback, £5.99)

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