On Friday night Oscar came out of school looking very excited, with a book clutched in his hand. He never stopped talking about it all the way home. His class have been doing a survey to find out their top five reads of Year Five. The book in his hand was Electrigirl by Jo Cotterill. It was one of the books his class had picked for their top five. He’d been waiting to bring it home and read it for ages, and now it was his turn.
Actually he’d read half of it in his golden time in the afternoon, and he was full of it. He was already hoping that it would be picked as one of the whole school’s top five books too, if not the best book.
He’d read it all by Friday bed time, and as he went upstairs he thrust it into my hand and said ‘READ IT. I NEED TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT IT.’ I’ve not heard him so enthusiastic about a book for a long, long time. So I read it.
Electrigirl tells the story of Holly Sparkes and her best friend Imogen. Holly and Imogen do everything together, until a new company build an office in their home town. CyberSky make mobile phones, and to compensate for building a mobile phone mast in the area, they give every child of twelve and over a mobile phone. This seems like a wonderful thing until Holly notices that Imogen is changing. She’s hooked on a quiz app on her phone and is paying less and less attention to Holly. It also seems to be changing her personality and Holly is both alarmed and upset.
Holly takes a walk to think about things when she is caught in a storm near the new mobile mast. A freak ball of lightning hitting her changes her life forever as she wakes up with super powers. With the help of her super hero obsessed brother who is the only one she can confide in, Holly learns to be Electrigirl and investigates exactly what is happening with Imogen and her phone.
The story is well told in Holly’s voice, with fantastic graphic panels by illustrator, Cathy Brett. It’s a hybrid between a graphic novel and a novel, with more written chapters than story board. I’d have liked to have seen a few more graphic style pages. I wonder if this will develop as the series continues. I rather hope so. It would be nice to see a more even split as the graphics bring a lot to the story.
I love the fact that this is a girl superhero and she’s written for younger readers. There are women superheroes, naturally, but graphic novels tend to cater to a much older demographic and it’s brilliant to see something for the 8-12 year range that isn’t focused on how much boys enjoy graphic novels.
I also love the fact that my boy did love this, and so did the other boys in his class. It’s brilliant to hear such enthusiasm when, having taught reading in schools for years I have so often heard the ‘I’m not reading that, it’s a girls’ book’ line. Electrigirl does a fantastic job of bridging the gender divide and giving something of quality to every reader. I look forward to reading the rest of the Electrigirl books.