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An Alien in the Jam Factory-Chrissie Sains, ill. by Jenny Taylor

A brilliant mix of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style crazy invention, but with aliens and a dastardly, doughnut-making villain! This is a funny, action-packed 'overcome the baddie' adventure with Scooter (a a young boy with cerebral palsy) as the main character, not only having to overcome the evil villain, but also loneliness and the challenges associated with his condition.

Living above a jam factory with its own roller coaster, jam-fountain and inventing rooms might sound like a dream existence, but Scooter is not happy. Despite the success of his jam-related ideas, he's lonely. A pet might help, but his mum and dad won't let him have one, so when a surprise visitor from outer space crashes into the factory one night, Scooter thinks he may have found the answer to his friend/pet woes.

Things don't quite run smoothly though...

I loved that author Chrissie Sains uses Scooter's cerebral palsy as a strength not a weakness...'it meant his brain was full of ideas' and 'hyper-creativity', and that when Scooter is feeling despondent at one point in the story, alien visitor Fizzbee explains that his differences are exactly what makes him stand out as unique!

The writing has a very sensitive and creative way of dealing with his challenging condition, and showing Scooter as a resilient and positive character, not held back at all.

Nobody has colours like Scooter. Nobody has has ideas like Scooter...Fizzbee loves Scooter because Scooter is different...

Crazy jam flavours (Candy floss, Brussel sprouts, Blueberry Burst to name a few), madcap factory machines, a trained guinea-pig burglar and an alien visitor that is as inventive as Scooter all combine with fart and poo jokes to make this a sure-fire winner with readers aged 7+ who will love the jokes and mishaps along the way.

The illustrations from Jenny Taylor also add humour and fun alongside the story, and are a great complement to the text, threaded as they are in, around, on and between the story text on the pages.

Alien in the Jam Factory is out now (April 1st 2021) from Walker Books. Find out more at their website or by following them on Twitter as @WalkerBooksUK

Thank you to Ellen for the review copy.

Author Chrissie Sains is on Twitter as @CRSains (website and illustrator Jenny Taylor as @jennytaylordraw (website )

Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot) April 2021

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