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Book Review: The Lightning Catcher by Clare Weze


'Alfie has noticed a few things since his family moved to Folding Ford. He really misses life in the city. He and his sister don't exactly fit in here. But the most interesting one is that the weather is BONKERS. One frost-covered branch on one tree in the middle of June? A tiny whirlwind in a bucket in the garden? Only in Folding Ford.

Armed with his bike, a notepad and his new best mate Sam, Alfie is going to investigate. His best clue is Nathaniel Clemm … the only thing in town weirder than the weather. When Alfie 'investigates' Mr Clemm's garden, only SLIGHTLY illegally, he finds a strange box that freezes his trainers and makes his teeth tingle. And when he opens it, only SLIGHTLY deliberately, SOMETHING gets out. Something fast, fizzing and sparking with electricity and very, very much alive. But the creature from the box brings trouble of its own, and as barometers and tempers go haywire in Folding Ford, Alfie finds himself at the centre of a perfect storm.'


If your child enjoys books like The Weather Weaver by Tamsin Mori, they will surely love The Lightning Catcher. Alfie and his family have moved to a place called the Folding Ford to try and rehabilitate Alfie's sister Lily who is struggling with anorexia brought on by bullying from her old school. Whilst there, Alfie and his friend Sam have noticed unusual weather phenomena that have no logical explanation, as well as Nathaniel Clemm, a giant of a man who wears funny clothes and provides sanctuary for exotic creatures who often escape into the little town and cause havoc.

Like that of Cardboard Cowboys, a book that was recently reviewed on this blog, this book does a great job at exploring prejudice. Alfie and Lily come from a mixed family which is very rare in the very white countryside of Folding Ford, Lily is facing even greater adversity because of her illness and processing the trauma her bullies inflicted onto her, and Nathaniel Clemm is virtually hated by everyone in town because of his quirky appearance and need to house animals. It also deals with family issues and the feeling of being left behind or an afterthought, as their father can only make long-distance calls and when he does call, he only asks about Lily (which while a little negligent it is obvious that Dad isn't ignoring Alfie on purpose).

This book has a very unique, high-energy narration with a lot of colloquialisms and quirky language, so some may find it a little hard to follow, but is perfect for someone who loves science and a writing style that has a flair of madness that only a child can appreciate.

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