Saturday 2 August 2014

Review: Compton Valance: The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe by Matt Brown

When Compton Valance and his best friend Bryan Nylon discover the world's first TIME MACHINE (aka a mouldy, thirteen-week-old-cheese-and-pickled-egg sandwich), they become the most powerful boys in the universe. But how will Compton and Bryan decide to use their incredible new time-travelling powers? Will they use them for good? Will they use them for evil? Or will they just focus their efforts on perfecting a formula for the world's first pair of custard trousers? Things are about to get totally scrambled for Compton Valance.

This is how Compton Valance: The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe opens:

Do you need to read any further to know that a child is just so going to love this book? Okay, so maybe we shouldn't judge a book from its first page (even though so many kids do exactly this), so how about a page from a little further into the book:

Yep, from beginning to end Matt Brown's debut book for kids is laugh-out-loud funny, and chock full of toilet humour, crazy adventure and ridiculous characters with even more ridiculous names (Bryan Nylon, Bernard 'Strictly' Strickland and Samuel Nathaniel Daniels, to name but three). 

Time travel does lend itself perfectly to comedy adventures, but Compton's adventures through time are almost secondary to everything else in this book. The sheer overwhelming (in a good way) force that is the humour hits you squarely between the eyes on page on, and leaves you in a giggling mess with snot dribbling down your chin come the final page. But that's not to say the plot suffers, although younger readers may struggle at times with the way their travelling through time repeatedly messes with timelines. More confident readers, who are able to focus on the plot whilst rolling on the floor laughing at the jokes, should have little problem following the story, especially as Matt Brown very kindly includes occasional footnotes as an aid (and, of course, to add even more comedy).

Matt Brown's comedy words are aided and abetted by the wonderful and madcap cartoon-style illustrations of Lizzie Finlay, who I am sure also had a hand in the way the text is presented, with varying typeface styles and sizes, adding emphasis and impact to the humour in the same way a live stand-up comedian would use timing. 

Compton Valance: The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe is the first in what I hope will be a lengthy series. In my opinion, it is much funnier than the Wimpy kid and Captain Underpants stories, and Matt Brown is another author to add to the growing list of homegrown talent that are now beginning to rival the likes of Jeff Kinney and Dave Pilkey. If you want to find out more about Matt Brown and his book then I urge you to head on over to the Compton valance micro-site at The book is also featuring as part of Pizza Hut's The Hut Book Club until September so if you're heading out for pizza look out for samplers.

Compton Valance: The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe was published at the beginning of June, and its sequel, Compton Valance: The Time Travelling Sandwich Bites Back is due to be published in October. My thanks go the the fab people at Usborne for sending me a copy of the book.

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