Hello Strange by Pamela Morrow (Penguin Random House)
This month this fabulous young adult novel hits the virtual shelves, and you can access a copy through numerous channels outlined here.
As soon as bookshops open again, you can of course also purchase physical copies, and I urge you to do so, not just because this is a high-paced, funny, stimulating, thought-provoking and entertaining read, with the added bonus of a lively layout, but also because both the author and the shops need all your support given the challenging timing of this launch. The Women’s Bookshop on Ponsonby Road was all set to host the event, so a big shout out to Carole and her team.
When I was about six, the height of scientific enterprise that encapsulated the excitement of the future was not the moon landing; after all, we queued up for ages to see a small lump of dusty moon rock that was, quite frankly, a huge disappointment. No, for me it was the Super Ball, the brightly coloured bouncy sphere of synthetic rubber called (Wikipedia informs me) Zectron. To a little girl, this seemed the height of scientific innovation: if you could make this tiny object bounce from floor to ceiling, endangering any ornaments in its path, then the future was going to be a wonderfully exciting place. Sad, I know, but toys have come a long way since then.
So, why am I wittering on about Super Balls? For two reasons. First, when Pamela sent her first draft in, it was evident there was something really special in there, but it needed work. So, I dashed her hopes to the ground with demands for changes and, like a Super Ball, she bounced back up again producing something far higher than my expectations. We went through that process several times, and Pamela just kept bouncing higher, a whizzing, psychedelic ball of energy and creativity, with added glitter. This is a sign of a true writer: someone with great ideas and a way with words and, most importantly, the perseverance and bounce of a Super Ball.
Secondly, although my imagination was tickled by a lump of synthetic rubber, Pamela’s imagination leaps as high and as far and as unexpectedly as those balls. Her vision of the future is fun and zany, but actually credible and well researched. From the talking toilet cubicles in school to the mood suit, her future is varied and intriguing, and a place I wanted to spend time in through the pages of her book.
Hello Strange has lots of heart (including a mechanical one and a humanoid one), vibrant characters, a compelling plot and is a moving exploration of grief.
So, for all readers from about 12 upwards, do escape this world into the future, as created by this exciting, irrepressible, Super Ball of a new writer, Pamela Morrow.
Here’s a sneak peek at the beginning
Harriet Allan, Fiction Publisher