By Author / Illustrator
Hachette Children's Group
Paperback / softback
Abducted by aliens, Harry wakes up on his birthday marooned on a spaceship. His only companions: two freaky princess clones, a weird alien-fish-kangaroo hybrid with delusions of grandeur and a ship's computer with a serious attitude problem. It's the worst birthday ever.
How is he ever going to get back to Earth now?
A brilliantly silly new story from the winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize
Dispensing with explanation, Thomson's hero Harry wakes up very confused - we as readers know as little as Harry does. Luckily Harry has watched lots of sci-fi on TV, and he's pretty clever, and ironically 'down to earth' which means he manages to escape and navigate his way around aliens, spaceships, more aliens, inter-species communication, alien crime and even a little hint of romance in this fast-paced humourous action-scifi hybrid.
The Wrong Side of the Galaxy is designed I think as a Hitchhiker's Guide for younger readers, with lots of silliness through 341 pages.
The plot is simple (although sometimes unexpected) but the space jargon Thomson employs might make it a harder read - maybe best read aloud to a child, or for that good reader who is still young enough to appreciate the silliness of it all. For instance, you will need an adult reader who can manage to say things out loud like 'whatever happened, he had to be on board the Fartface Banana Nose'; (as Harry names his spaceship). The illustrations are a lovely addition Thomson is fond of physical character descriptions, which lend themselves to Jamie Lenman's fantastic cartoony artwork. This combination of word and picture will feel very familiar to fans of The World of Norm, which feels like a similar target audience.
Clearly designed as the first of Harry's adventures, this book does not read satisfy as a standalone, because it does not resolve at all in the end. Fans of the acclaimed 'Dark Lord: the Teenage Years' may be disappointed. 341 pages / Ages 8-11 years / Reviewed by Helen Swinyard, librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+