Author: Paul Magrs
Publisher: Simon & Schuster * 266 pages * £6.99
ISBN: 978-1-84738-412-6 • 4 March
Surprisingly, this kids’ book focuses not on a modern-day Who fan, but a bookish lad growing up in the North-East in the early ’80s (the real ’80s, not the Ashes To Ashes version). At first you wonder whether the target audience will be baffled and alienated. Then it strikes you: perhaps this obsolete era of audio cassettes and proper letters is as fascinating to the iPlayer-and-SMS generation as the privations of the Blitz were to ’80s kids.
As 12-year-old David grows more reserved, discovers his best friend now thinks Terrance Dicks novelisations are “puffy”, and quietly realises that he doesn’t like girls , regeneration turns out to be an excellent metaphor for teenage transformation. There are no major incidents in this touching, understated tale, only the low-key drama of ordinary life in a northern town. Thirtysomethings will smile at references to Breville sandwich toasters and Tudor crisps. Fans will chuckle at David’s vocabulary of words-learnt-from- Who (like “chitinous”, “unearthly” and “voluminous”). Teens, meanwhile, will be reassured that it’s okay to be different - and realise that a previous generation experienced exactly the same uncertainty.