Revew: The Parent Agency by David Baddiel

Comedy, Recommendations, Review
Image from Goodreads
Title: The Parent Agency
Author: David Baddiel
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s
Publication Date: 9 Oct 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Synopsis from Goodreads
A brilliantly funny, gripping novel from a born storyteller, The Parent Agency is an epic wish-fulfilment adventure for every child – and for the child in everyone.
Barry said, a third time, “I wish I had better parents!” And then suddenly the entire room started to shake…
Barry Bennett hates being called Barry. In fact it’s number 2 on the list of things he blames his parents for, along with 1) ‘being boring’ and 3) ‘always being tired’.
But there is a world, not far from this one, where parents don’t have children. That’s far too random for something so big and important. In this world, children are allowed to choose their parents.
For Barry Bennett, this world seems like a dream come true. Only things turn out to be not quite that simple…
The Parent Agency is a children’s comedy book, which in my opinion is suitable for all ages. The author is a comedian but the book does not have many laugh-out-loud moments, mostly using more subtle humour. The story follows a normal boy named Barry, who hates his parents. When he screams, “I hate my parents!” after being sent to his room he is teleported to a world where children choose their parents. He trials five sets of parents, one per day.
Barry chooses each trial set of parents as the opposite to something he really hates about his own. So, he tries rich, famous, fit and not strict parents, as well as some were he is the favourite child. He, the parents or both are left dissatisfied after each day and as his tenth birthday (upon which something awful happens if he has not decided) looms he is still unsure.
My favourite character is TSE (The Sisterly/Secretary Entity) who are constantly annoyingly efficient, driving Barry insane. The way they always think exactly alike and interrupt each other is one of the funniest elements of the book. The part I like best is the time he spends with the celebrity couple, “Vlassorina”, a singer (Morrisina – sponsored by Morrison’s) and an actor (Vlad). Specifically, the end of his time with them when he humiliates them publicly – something they are not used to at all.
There are really very few problems with this book. Although it uses the infamous “and then I woke up” style ending, it is done very well and is not an issue. The novel could make more use of the parallel universe element in the parent agency world, by making the boss and Jake act more alike, PCs 890 and 891 behave more like Luke and Tajas, or by introducing some of Barry’s trial parents in the real world. Also, as an older reader I found some language a little childish and the font size too big, although this is just me.
I would definitely read another book by this author and I have already recommended it to a lot of my friends. As I have said, I believe all ages can enjoy this book, although it is probably ideal for those at around Barry’s age which is 9-10. There is absolutely no issue with the language used in this book as the worst word used is “bum”.
I would give the book 5/5 stars.

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