Monday, 16 June 2014

Review: The Mute Button by Ellie Irving

Publisher: Corgi
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: June 5th, 2014
Rating: 9/10

Amazon summary:

Anthony Button loves his big family, but their noise can drive him crazy. And with the arrival of a brand-new older brother, it's worse than ever! So Ant starts a silent protest to try and get everyone's attention. But now he's pressed the mute button, will he ever find his voice again?


I'm new to Ellie Irving's writing and The Mute Button is the first of her books I've read. I can tell you now that it is BRILLIANT - utterly gripping, well written and one my 2014 favourites so far. For any 9+ readers out there, this is a must-read.

Ten-year-old Anthony Button is one of five children in a big, mad family and can name 403 different types of cheese. He has a suicidal cat called Badger, and hasn't yet found that one thing he's good at (besides eating cheese, of course). His family life changes when Ben arrives on the scene and turns out to be his half-brother. Anthony isn't impressed and, in protest, decides to stop talking. The only thing is: will he be able to start again?

The Mute Button covers all sorts of realistic themes and issues, most notably what happens when a new, unknown sibling arrives on the scene. It explores family life and its complicated relationships, as well as the strain put on siblings to over-achieve and be seen as living up to their potential. I imagine children in a big family can feel alone and left out at times, which is what author Ellie Irving focuses on here. Rather than be dull and depressing, she takes a humorous approach to everything Anthony is going through, making The Mute Button a very funny read indeed. From suicidal cats to the worst jokes in the world, it's all here!

There's lots to be found in this book that 9+ children will relate to. Bullying at school, friendship cliques, presentations, loneliness, feeling like a freak - all the usual stuff we go through in a bid to reach secondary school in one piece. Told in a distinct voice, this is the kind of book all primary students should be made to read and hopefully take something from. Whether it's just to smile at the quiet girl every day, or think twice about calling someone a nasty name, it's all relevant and important to making the school environment a better, nicer place.

The Mute Button is a fantastic book, brilliantly realised and featuring one of the best literary families I've had the pleasure of meeting. Novels like this are the reason why I love younger fiction and why I actively try to read a lot of it. I may be in my late twenties, but books and their messages are universal, especially ones like this. Well done, Ellie Irving!

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