The Super-secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson: Just a touch of utter chaos / (The Boy Who Got) Accidentally Famous

Here are two hugely readable books from Harper Collins Children’s Books: thanks to the publisher for sending them for review:

The Super-secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson: Just a touch of utter chaos
Charlie P. Brooks and Katy Riddell

After the crisis with Mum almost taking a job in New York, things are once again in turmoil in the Hopkinson household, particularly where adept inventor/wielder of words, ten year old Holly is concerned. For instance she might as she says, have mentioned to her best friend Daffodil something about a New York move. Actually her mum is embarking instead on opening a farm shop/emporium.

Then her teacher Miss Blossom announces that she’s engaged to be married and that the entire class will be involved. Now while this is not good news for Holly Hopkinson (schoolgirl) and Holly Hopkinson (Band Manager Inc.) that still leaves possibilities for her Film Location and Places Inc. persona. Now she should pass on the information regarding the marriage to Aunt Electra whose establishment might just be a possibility for the wedding venue. Seemingly it’s time for Holly to make use of her magic pocket watch once again.

I loved the famous artists’ background homework episode and that of the visit to one of London’s cutting edge ‘art galleries.’ That event certainly sets some changes in motion.

As with the previous two diaries, this one is full of laugh-out-loud moments, plenty of twists and turns in the family’s fortunes, some village politics, funny food and unusual characters, including one or two unexpected ones. Like the others, Katy Riddell’s black and white illustrations provide an additional layer of humour to Charlie P. Brooks’ storytelling. 

It does work as a stand-alone book but it’s probably better if readers are familiar with Holly’s previous diaries (now safely stashed in a biscuit tin) before embarking on this one.

(The Boy Who Got) Accidentally Famous
David Baddiel, illustrated by Steven Lenton

This is a laugh-out-loud story starring the very ordinary eleven year old Billy who lives with his ordinary mum and dad and his ten month old sister (also ordinary). Nothing out of the ordinary has ever happened to Billy; but then one day something extraordinary takes place. A TV crew from TotalTV TV descend on Billy’s school, Bracket Wood to film for a show to be called School Daze. Many of Billy’s classmates play up for the cameras, hoping one of them will become famous. Not Billy however: he’s sure that the closest to fame he’ll ever get is reading about his favourite star Sunshine De Marto in his mum’s glossy magazines.

However, what happens thereafter only goes to show how wrong somebody can be: Almost overnight, on account of his ordinariness Billy becomes an internet sensation: #BillyTheNormo #OrdinaryBilly and the trending #Relatabill; there’s even a #Relatabill rap. Now at school too, everybody notices Billy especially when TotalTV want him to sign a contract. Moreover there’s a strong possibility that he might actually get to meet Sunshine De Marco.

However as his fame increases, Billy feels like somebody else entirely 

and it’s fortunate that his best friend Bo has his back, at least to begin with. Billy has to make some choices for himself if he really is to meet Sunshine and caught up in his stardom, he makes some unwise decisions. Can true friendship save him and help the boy realise his dream?

David Baddiel’s witty take on fame and friendship is a very funny, heart-warming, highly engaging and relatable story that readers in KS2 will love. It also offers lots of opportunities for class discussion and more. Steven Lenton’s black and white illustrations really help bring the characters – ordinary or otherwise – to life. Unable to it put it down, I read the book in a single sitting.

The Super-secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson

The Super-secret Diary of Holly Hopkinson
Charlie P. Brooks, illustrated by Katy Riddell
Harper Collins Children’s Books

Having survived the move to the countryside following her Dad’s job loss, Holly (with volume 1 safely stashed in a time capsule) shares volume two of her memoirs with readers.

Four months have now passed. Mum is still commuting to her old PR job in London while Dad is busy with his Chequers bistro pub project that her Aunt Electra might or might not become general manager of, and her niece aka Holly is assisted by the magic pocket watch given to her as a 10th birthday present by said aunt. She’s just got to get the hang of how to use it properly and then all will be fine.

As the account opens the school Christmas holiday is a couple of days away and life for Holly promises to be hyper-hectic. First though she sneaks a preview look at the reports her class teacher has left in her desk drawer while she has a coffee break. Did I hear the word ‘tamper’ just then? Oops! magic pocket watch disaster number one.

Followed soon after by disaster number two and that one well and truly messes things up for her dad at Chequers. Maybe she can help Mum instead … sounds as though another disaster is imminent. Beware the cloud of doom.

Then there’s the formation of The Cool to deal with, followed shortly after by band management duties. Can she possibly cope with a stay-over visit from London bestie (ex?) Aleeshaa with all this, not to mention keeping an eye on what Grandpa is up to. Then there’s the arrival of a film director looking for a location for his next blockbuster. Talk about chaotic Christmas holiday.

Annoyingly, the chances of Holly getting that i-pad she so much wants seem to be diminishing.

Like this reviewer, readers will likely find themselves giggling at almost every turn of the page: try this for a taster: ‘My bum now looks like two raw steaks being marinated overnight and the way I’m walking you’d think I was auditioning for a cowboy film. I’ve even had to put the loo paper in the fridge.’ (entry following a fall from Declan as Holly prepares for the Chequers Xmas Pony race).

When countryside catastrophes are mixed with comical capers you can be sure Holly Hopkinson is involved one way or another in Charlie P. Brooks’ altogether different, fun family drama with highly appropriate visual jottings by Katy Riddell.