Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Review: The Parent Agency by David Baddiel
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: October 9th, 2014
Barry said, a third time, “I wish I had better parents!” And then suddenly the entire room started to shake… Barry Bennett hates being called Barry. In fact it’s number 2 on the list of things he blames his parents for, along with 1) ‘being boring’ and 3) ‘always being tired’. But there is a world, not far from this one, where parents don’t have children. That’s far too random for something so big and important. In this world, children are allowed to choose their parents. For Barry Bennett, this world seems like a dream come true. Only things turn out to be not quite that simple…
The Parent Agency takes an unusual idea and makes it into a fun, enjoyable children's book about what would happen if you could choose your own parents. It might sound a good idea on paper, but what would you do if you were placed with the wrong family or ended up with a mum and dad you didn't like? Barry experiences it all within five days of parent testing, and the results aren't at all what he expected!
Barry is a normal kid, with parents who he thinks could, and should, be better and different. He wants more attention and an epic James Bond birthday party, and when his wish seems to come true, he realises that perhaps his old life isn't so bad after all. Barry tests five sets of parents from The Parent Agency, ranging from rich to famous to hippies living in a field. He sees their flaws firsthand, and finally comes to accept that balanced parenting is the only way to successfully do the most important job anyone will ever have: that of raising a child.
Barry's parents from The Parent Agency really made me laugh; they're wacky, exaggerated and completely unreal. I'm particularly fond of hippies Mr and Mrs Cool and their tent, not to mention the disgusting food they rustle up. I also like Barry's first family, the super rich Lord and Lady Rader-Wellorff. Talk about having more money than sense! As a little extra with this novel, Jim Field provides a selection of fantastic illustrations depicting all the parents exactly as I imagined them - wait until you see the Rader-Wellorff's gaggle of children!
David Baddiel has written a great kid's book here, and one that will make children appreciate their parents a little bit more. After reading what Barry goes through in The Parent Agency, it's easy to see why our parents are the perfect fit for us. It might not seem it at the time, but it's true - they do their best and what they think is right, and children have to respect that. Barry learns this lesson the hard way, but he learns it all the same. His story is well worth a read if you like 9+ fiction with humour and heart!