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There are lots of reasons not to become a teen mum while still at school - there's your loss of freedom, for a start, plus the fact that babies spend their days crying and pooing, not to mention the fact they're expensive. But what happens to Jess is something that no one has warned her about: she goes into hospital and gives birth to a bouncing baby moose. Which is, it has to be said, slightly odd. As she and boyfriend Nick struggle through first-time parenthood and learn to deal with the Unique Challenge of having a non-homo-sapien child, there's a lesson for all of us about biting off more than we can chew and unpredictable consequences.
Part of the ''Pocket Money Puffins'' series, this is a short story aimed at teens. Given how compact it is, there's no time for waffling introductions or pondering paragraphs, reflecting on the unusual circumstances Jess and Nick find themselves in. Instead, we jump straight into the story and whizz along at full speed until the end, which is more of a second beginning than a finale, but hey.
With short stories like this, the style is as important as the plot. You don't have the opportunity to 'get into it' at your own pace as it's over before you know it, and so it's vitally important that the writing grabs you from the first few sentences and doesn't let go until you reach the end. This is something Rosoff achieves with spectacular success. If anything, it reads like the next chapter in a book you've already started: you already know who the characters are, what they're doing, why they're here. No time is wasted on the boring background details and yet you're never left confused about the who, what and whys of it all. It must have been complicated to achieve, but it's clever, and it works.
This is a fun story that is a bit 'out there' but doesn't try to hide this fact. It's easy to read, kooky and enjoyable, and because it's so short it will keep the attention of even the most reluctant readers out there. A great stepping stone to 'proper' full length novels, this is recommended to fluent and less fluent readers of secondary school age.
The story may end fifty pages in, but the fun doesn't, as the book then includes extracts from two of Rosoff's other books, ''Just In Case'' and "What I Was" which continue to showcase her talent for intriguing, engaging, easy to read tales.
This book is available used for a few pennies (plus postage) or about £3.50 delivered from Amazon. It's a story short on pages but brimming with fun and adventure, and quite simply is a lovely, if brief, read. Use it to get reluctant readers reading, or for a quick peek at Rosoff's work - there's a whole back catalogue of full length novels waiting if you get hooked. And I think you might.
This review first appeared on The Bookbag.