When Andy’s parents promise him an Xbox for his 12th birthday on the condition that he writes in his journal on every single one of the 138 days between now and then, he can’t imagine how he could ever find enough to write about. That problem doesn’t last long. Between the Birdbath Bandit, his parents’ fighting, his body behaving strangely and his dog getting sick, Andy soon finds that the journal is one way of keeping his sanity while his world is going completely mad. The Andy Flegg Survival Guide is the perfect mixture of elements to win over pre-teen boys: truly hilarious one-liners, a brutally honest view of the perks and pitfalls of growing up, a charming insight into what happens when families fall apart, and a reminder that our view of people is almost certainly wrong. With gentle humour and wicked honesty, Mark Pardoe confronts issues of family, friends, loss and change in a way that is both entertaining and educational. Perfect for the reluctant reader, The Andy Flegg Survival Guide is sure to be a favourite of fans of The Wimpy Kid and Timmy Failure.
Meg Whelan is the children’s book buyer at the Hill of Content Bookshop in Melbourne. This review first appeared on the Books+Publishing website in May 2013. View more pre-publication reviews here.