Radio Boy – Christian O’Connell

It seems that one of the signs of aging is what radio station you choose to listen to first thing in the morning. As a child I listened to Radio 2 (because my Mum did): Terry Wogan, the Floral Dance and Jimmy Young. Funnily enough if you listen to Radio 2 now they’re playing The Clash and The Who…After that I went through the obligatory Radio 1 phase but had to give that up when the DJs (all of them, they seemed fairly interchangeable) just got annoying. I then started on commercial radio, since the adverts couldn’t irritate me more than Radio 1’s offerings, and settled with Virgin. And I’ve stuck with it, through Mark & Lard, Pete & Jeff, the name change to Absolute and on to the era of Christian O’Connell. I wasn’t sure what to make of O’Connell when he started (because I’d really loved Pete & Jeff’s particular combination of slightly left field music choices and comedy) but I knew I was going to stick with him when I heard his on-air interactions with kids. Never patronising and always interested in what young callers have to say  – O’Connell’s two young daughters are probably not ashamed to admit the connection in the playground (which is high praise at that age…). When I heard that the OC – as we listeners call him – had written a children’s book I was encouraged to give it a try.

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Radio Boy is the story of Spike, an eleven year old boy who isn’t clever or sporty or popular. In fact there is only one thing in life he’s really any good at: radio. Of course his talent isn’t appreciated by the local hospital radio station where he has a show – in fact they sack him – but when he starts a show from his dad’s shed (using the name ‘Radio Boy’ and a fancy piece of technology which disguises his voice) he becomes an overnight success. Partly because he is a bright and funny kid but mostly because he just can’t resist using his anonymity to mock the school headmaster.  He has lots of help with the show from his best mates – Holly the tech-geek and Artie, who seems to be the youngest muso in town and has a vinyl collection I really envy – as well as his Dad and at least one teacher but success does eventually go to his head. He’s 11 – of course it does!

This is a funny and fast-paced story suitable for children 9/10+. If they like music, technology or radio even better but this is, in the end, a story about a group of friends tackling what they see as injustice. Spike is our main character but he has to learn to take Artie and Holly into account since his action affect them too – there are some lessons learned by the end of the book (but not in a dull, moralising kind of way). I’m sure Spike and his friends will be just as entertaining in their next planned adventure.Jane

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