Sleepover Takeover by Simon James Green
For Otis, this was a sleepover to remember - if only he could! When dorky, unpopular 11-yr-old Otis wakes up in the morning at a sleepover birthday party, he's in for a shock. At the marquee where the sleepover took place, it's a scene of carnage and mayhem: there's a donkey drinking at the chocolate fountain, a huge inflatable helium sausage looms above, doves everywhere, one of the kids has a tattoo, and there's a suitcase of bratwurst on the floor! But what's weirdest of all, neither Otis nor the other kids can remember what happened! The party was in the back garden of popular kid Rocco Rococo's huge house, and Otis was only there because his mum forced an invitation. Otis realizes that makes him Prime Suspect for causing the mess, and he needs to clear his name. Meanwhile, Rocco just needs to keep his parents from finding out! So while everyone else makes a befuddled exit, Otis and Rocco reluctantly team up to hide the evidence. They decide to retrace their steps in the hope of solving the mystery... Simon James Green is an award-winning author of funny books for kids.
I'm going to just come out and say it: this book is bonkers. It is hilarious and lots of fun; it is farcical in places and a very enjoyable read. If you've read any of my previous reviews you will know that I have confessed that I'm not a big fan of funny books so I must admit that I started reading this with some trepidation and scepticism. I am now starting to thing that I need to re-evaluate my opinion on funny books as I really liked this book and laughed a lot at it.
The premise of the book got me immediately thinking that it sounded like 'The Hangover' for kids and indeed in lots of ways that is exactly what the book was. Otis the main character is a bit of an outsider, he and his friend Jagger don't really fit in with the rest of the kids in their class and mostly keep to themselves enjoying their lives in their own ways. So it is a surprise when they receive an invite to the part of the year, the 11th birthday party of Rocco, the most popular (and probably richest) child in the class. Otis didn't even know that Rocco knew he existed.
The party set the story up for some hilarious and ridiculous adventures. It is as ostentatious and over the top as you can imagine (in fact probably more so) and includes a giant chocolate fountain that Otis enjoys perhaps too much. Otis wakes on the morning after the party with no memories of what happened after taking too much chocolate from the fountain. He wakes to chaos; the marquee is a mess, there is a donkey in it and a cherub statue has appeared mysteriously, oh and he is wearing a wedding dress and has no memory of what has happened. No one else at the party has any memory of what happened either but all of Rocco's 'friends' abandon him quickly when they see the devastation.
From this point on the story moves from one ridiculous, yet hilarious incident to another whilst Otis and Rocco try and put right the devastation and figure out what on earth happened at the party. I will not spoil it for you but there are some particular highlights with the wedding which was almost painfully funny.
Hidden beneath all this hilarity was a message about friendship and being true to yourself. As the story progresses Otis and the other characters discover more about each other and about what it means to be a good friend.
A quick mention about the illustrations by Aleksei Bitskoff-they are fabulous and really add an extra dimension to the story. They are equally as funny as the story itself and really help you visualise some of the ridiculousness (Otis channelling Ziggy Stardust with his party outfit is a favourite of mine).
This book would be perfect for anyone from 8 years old plus who enjoys a bit of slapstick humour. It is a very funny book and a very enjoyable read.
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