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The Genius Aged 8 1/4 by Jeremy Strong is the second Little Gem that dyslexia friendly publisher Barrington Stoke sent me to review last week. Jeremy Strong has written dozens of books for children, the most famous of which is probably The Hundred Mile an Hour Dog, which all my children loved. I am a big fan of his books about Mad Iris the demented ostrich who lives at Pudding Lane primary school, also published by Barrington Stoke.


His books are always entertaining and sometimes, as is the case with this book, laugh out loud silly. I absolutely adored this, and thought the terrifically lively illustrations by Jamie Smith only added to the humour of the very silly story.

Mr. and Mrs. Poppleton, are, it has to be said, a little bit stupid. They only work out that they are about to have a baby when the baby actually arrives. When he does, they really don’t know what to do with him. They love him a lot, but their parenting skills leave a lot to be desired, as do their naming skills. They call him Squeaky Squawker Reface Splurp Bottom.

Luckily the little boy grows up very, very fast indeed, and also turns out to be a child genius. One of the very first things he does, apart from stopping his parents play ‘throw the baby across the pond’, is insist that his name be changed to Alfie.

Once this is accomplished, Alfie has to take all the grown ups in first his town and then his country, and even others, in hand, in a series of madder and madder adventures in which the adults are all bonkers and Alfie is the sole voice of reason.

This is a wonderfully funny book that is not only great for boys and girls aged 5-8 to read alone, but absolutely brilliant to share with children. I defy you to finish it without giggling, it’s that silly.

You can read the first chapter here.