Monday, November 2, 2015

The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Rory Rooney has been constantly bullied by his kickboxing nemesis Tommy-Lee Komissky aka Grim.  When Tommy-Lee helps himself to Rory's favorite dessert at school one day, though, he is suddenly whisked away in an ambulance.  Turns out, Tommy-Lee has a nut allergy.

Later, his friends decide to pay Rory back for making their friend ill and on a class trip to Wales push Rory into a stream.  But when Rory emerges, he, too, is quickly whisked, ultimately landing in an isolated observation room in a London hospital with none other than his old nemesis Tommy-Lee.

It seems both Rory and Tommy-Lee have suddently turned green - bright broccoli green, the same green despite the difference in their original skin color.  Tommy-Lee's was rather pinkish pale, Rory's was a bit darker, since his   And much to Rory's darker because his mother is Irish and his father comes from Guyana.

The first night in the hospital, Tommy-Lee sleepwalks out of the room, and heads for the roof.  Following him, Rory is amazed that Tommy-Lee can easily punch in the code numbers on the different keypads and open the doors he goes through.  On the roof, they land in the window-washer's cradle and Rory lowers them down to the ground.

Rory, whose father is totally into comic books about superheroes, soon begins to think that turning green also results in acquiring a super power.  He is sure that his brain is working at 200% capacity and he can slightly teleport.  Tommy-Lee just seems to automatically know the numbers on coded-keypads, but unlike Rory who wants to use his superpowers for good, Tommy-Lee wants to use the for evil.

Each night, Tommy-Lee sleepwalks out of the hospital and the two green boys go on amazing and often hilarious adventures together.  At one point, Rory finds himself face-to-face with a hippo, driving a garbage truck, and escaping from a riot that results in meeting Koko Kwok, a strong-minded girl from Chinatown who is also green and whom they sneak into their observation room.

The three continue their noctural adventures, sometimes with the help of a penguin named Peter.  They are soon hobnobbing with prime ministers, an exhausted prince and his insomniac son, and giving advice on how the country should be run.

But do the boys ever become friends, real friends with each other?  And will they ever return to their natural skin color?  And does turning green have anything to do with the fearful Killer Kittens virus swepting through the country?

The novel is told in the first-person by Rory, who, like Tommy-Lee and Koko is about 12 years old.  Rory's narration is humorous and detailed, and we only learn about what is going on with Tommy-Lee through him.  But we learn alot.  Rory is also a kid who likes to be prepared for any and all situations.  His favorite book is called Don't Be Scared, Be Prepared! which tells you a lot about how he sees himself.  Tommy-Lee, whose real name is Karol, is a boy with serious anger-management issues that have been channeled into kickboxing skills.  What's particularly nice about the story is what the characters discover about themselves.

The Astounding Broccoli Boy is a fun, fast zany novel.  It has 384 pages, but the chapters are short and read quickly.  Frank Cottrell Boyce has a rather quirky sense of humor and it is in full force here, making this a very modern, tongue-in-cheek novel, full of British wit (and I have complete faith that American readers will readily understand it).  His style here has been compared to Roald Dahl, and I can see why.  The situations he puts his characters into are just so preposterous but that's OK because turning broccoli green isn't the stuff of realistic fiction anyway.

Overall, this is a fun romp around London by three would-be wannabe superheroes, bound to make you laugh and never want eat quinoa again.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was an EARC received from Edelweiss/Above the Treeline


  1. Sounds great! My son really liked Cosmic so I think I will buy him a copy of this book! My son loves funny zany books!

  2. I saw this title at the book store and passed it up, but now I wish I hadn't. Thanks for the thorough review - it sounds great!


Imagination Designs