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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Hal Junior: The Secret Signal By Simon Haynes. Bowman, 2011

Cover Blurb:

Hal Junior lives aboard a futuristic space station. His mum is chief scientist, his dad cleans air filters and his best mate is Stephen 'Stinky' Binn. As for Hal ... he's a bit of a trouble magnet. He means well, but his wild schemes and crazy plans never turn out as expected!

Hal Junior: The Secret Signal features mayhem and laughs, daring and intrigue ... plus a home-made space cannon!

I've read the adult Hal Spacejock series, which were published by Fremantle Press. They're basically Bill, The Galactic Hero meets Red Dwarf. Hal Spacejock, the hero, is a klutzy interplanetary truck driver with a robot sidekick, and the adventures have this unlucky pair caught up in much bigger events than they are prepared for.

This children's book takes us back to a time when Hal was still living at home on the space station with his parents. The book began like a typical Hal Spacejock adventure, with Hal involved in a couple of near-catastrophes, one of them to do with reversing gravity to get back a paper plane that was part of his homework. But the events at the beginning turned out to have significance later in the novel, when Hal is called on to save the day.

Between chapters are silly drawings and comments reminiscent of some of the Terry Denton illustrations in Andy Griffiths books. There's even a page of Morse code dots and dashes that children should have fun with.

If you've read the adult books, it's almost poignant thinking that this little boy who manages to use his wits and save the day will become an adult klutz, stumbling from one misadventure to another. But if you're a child just discovering this universe, it's a great giggle. I read the book from cover to cover on the beach one hot afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. We can only hope that there will be an entire series.

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