Count

Count
Melvin Burgess, illustrated by Chris Mould
Andersen Press

This is award winning author Melvin Burgess’s first book for younger readers and what a hoot of a story it is.

Meet Brandon an inveterate boaster: strongest in his class, super at soccer, tops in every subject in class, in fact, according to him, he’s the best at everything. It’s only his younger sister who believes his claims, and his teacher, while approving of his having a wonderful imagination, points out that continuing with such wild pretences will result in people not accepting a word he says.

Then to go one (actually many many) better than his best pal Waris, Brandon announces that he can count to – wait for it – TEN MILLION!

Off he goes and to his surprise, once he starts counting he finds himself totally besotted with numbers, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else.

Even being sent to the headteacher, Miss Hexx who he flatly refuses to obey when she tells him to stop counting. A special staff meeting is called but oddly quite a few of the teachers actually find Brandon’s counting ‘rather beautiful’ or similar. The teacher part of me fell about to read Mr Wyke’s comment: “This is a school. You’re supposed to learn how to do things – you’re not supposed to actually start doing them yourself until you’re grown up.”

Calculations are made and the boy discovers that to reach his goal will take a whole year, so what about Christmas, which would involve his entire family?

Will this love affair between Brandon and numbers ever stop? Assuredly it’s having an effect on everyone at school and the boy’s fame is spreading far and wide.

Nobody quite knows what will happen next …

Brilliantly anarchic and pricelessly funny – made even more so by Chris Mould’s comical black-and-white illustrations, I envisage countless children reading this in a single sitting eager to know how the story ends; all I’ll say is that they’re in for a surprise. It would also make a smashing class read aloud, so long as KS2 teachers aren’t worried about putting ideas into the heads of their charges.

More for primary age readers please Melvin.

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