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My children and I are big fans of Moone Boy on television, and when I found out there was a book of Moone Boy available, I knew my son would love it. To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for the book myself, as books released in line with television series tend to be poor at best. Nevertheless, for our recent holiday, I bought him Moone Boy: The Blunder Years to take with him. He read the book in two days flat, and passed it on to me. I couldn’t resist giving it a whirl.

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It tells the story of the hapless Martin Moone, the youngest of four siblings, and the only boy of the lot. The book is set in the late eighties in Boyle, Southern Ireland, when Martin is 11 and in his last year at primary school. It is loosely based on the real life experiences of Chris O’Dowd, co-author (along with Nick V. Murphy) and actor who plays Martin’s imaginary friend or IF, the narrator of the book.

Martin is absolutely hopeless at most things, and is splendidly and creatively bullied by his three sisters, Fidelma, Trisha and Sinead, particularly Sinead with whom he is forced to share a bedroom. His best friend Padraic is even more hopeless than he is, and they spend a lot of time being ignored, put upon or beaten up.  It is Padraic however who comes up with the genius idea that Martin could do with an IF. Padraic has his own IF, a wrestler called Crunchy Danger Haystacks. This whole imaginary friend idea has its appeal for Martin and he decides to give it a go.

The only problem is that Martin is not blessed with the finest of imaginations, and failure to think of one means he is forced to order his imaginary friend from a catalogue, with disastrous results.  Cue the introduction of Sean Murphy, who is an imaginary administrator who appears in Martin’s wardrobe, hoping to sort out Martin’s IF problems when it turns out his mail order IF is more trouble than he is worth.

There are lots of things I loved about this book. Firstly it only marginally overlaps with the material that appears in the Moone Boy television series. I would say about 75% of the book is original material that sets the scene for how and why Martin gets Sean Murphy in his life.  Secondly it is very well written. Thirdly it is very funny, and fourthly it has excellent illustrations by Walter Giampaglia, who is the same artist whose work features in the television series.

I would recommend it for children who love Tom Gates and Wimpy Kid books. It has much the same vibe, but is more wordy and slightly more grown up. I am thinking here of the story in which Martin tries to persuade his sister Trisha to let the top bully in school have a feel of her boobs so that he will stop two lesser bullies beating Martin up. It’s not entirely PC, but it is rather funny, especially as things go disastrously wrong, as they always seem to do for poor Martin.

I was happy for my son to read the book, you will have to judge where your comfort zone lies.  I would say this is the rudest thing that happens, and it certainly wouldn’t stop me stocking it in the school library for the upper key stage two children to borrow.

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