Oli and Skipjack’s Tales of Troubles the mum shop
By ceci jenkinson
faber and faber,
There are some thoughts that are best left to the darkest recesses of the mind — for instance, wishing that you could exchange your mother for another, especially when you think she is driving you up the wall. That’s what you and I would think. Ceci Jenkinson, the author of Oli and Skipjack’s Tales of Trouble, The Mum Shop, however, does not agree. As we find out while reading through the book, you must be careful about what you wish. If you want to know why, read on.
The Mum Shop is the first in a series and introduces two characters, Oli and his best friend, Skipjack. Ten-year-old Oli is unhappy that his mother has not allowed him to watch a television show that the whole school is going crazy about. So he has an argument with his mother, which quickly spirals out of control, until Oli says that he wished he could exchange her for another.
That’s when all the trouble begins. Oli’s mother takes him to a Mum shop, a kind of match-making centre, between kids and the kind-of-mother-you-please.
A weird young man called Cedric Springfellow mans the Mum shop, where all activity revolves around a monster-like machine called, The Matcher.
The book builds itself around the idea of a dystopian world where wishes come true but with a twist in the tale.
Unfortunately for Oli, he’s first teamed up with Sid the Happy, who’s funny and accommodating — just the kind of mom Oli wants, but who often gets him into trouble.
Next, Oli is teamed with M44. Not a regular name for a mom, and as it turns out, she is a spy for the Black Cane Brigade, and she drives a tank to come to town. The brigade wants to take child-rearing back to the Dark Ages, or at least close to it. It believes that children should stay away from pizzas, survive on milk-puddings and well, I hate to say this, that they should be liberally treated to the cane.
How a confused and repentant Oli goes about setting things straight, with help from Skipjack, makes for an interesting read. And he has quite a task at hand. He not only has to stop The Matcher from teaming his mom with somebody else, he also has to foil the mission of the Black Cane Brigade.
With an imaginative story line and plenty of drama and adventure, this book is bound to fuel many a young reader’s interest.