A few months ago Moontrug took part in this: #ukmgchat action with Joe Craig. Sounds like a garbled MI6 code but actually it was a chat on Twitter with loads of UK ‘middle grade’ writers (authors who write for 8-12-year-olds) – about how to write action, led by best-selling author, Joe Craig. For two hours, Craig regaled us with tips to heighten the drama of a scene: whittle down the adjectives and verbs, use dynamic verbs, vary sentence lengths and use pens as characters to act out scenes you can’t quite visualise! By the end of the Twitter chat, Moontrug had acted out a horse chase scene with smarties (not enough pens to hand…) and put Joe Craig’s Jimmy Coates books to the top of her ‘To Be Read’ pile.
Heralded as a ‘Bourne Identity for kids’ by The Times newspaper, Jimmy Coates: Killer is the story of an ordinary eleven-year-old boy with a secret – only he doesn’t know what it is. Who are the mysterious men chasing Jimmy across the city? Why are they after him? What are Jimmy’s parents keeping from him and who can he trust? And how come he can suddenly do all this really cool stuff?
The book is packed full of action: think car chases, helicopter escapes, chicken skewer dueling, unexpected kidnappings, muggings – and a few superpowers throw in for extra measure. Moontrug would advise munching an energy bar and downing Lucozade while reading this book. Jimmy is an empathetic hero, full of courage, loyalty and humour (love that in an emergency he grabs chocolate from the fridge then follows up with an apple ‘in case he got really desperate’!) and Craig balances the 11-year-old boy against the secret agent killer brilliantly. Georgie is a suitably punchy older sister and Jimmy’s best friend, Felix, is a welcome joker alongside the action-filled plot: ‘Anyway, you’ll need to get back to school eventually or you’ll have no education and you’ll be stupid and you’ll get no job and you’ll die cos you have no food. I might feed you for a while, but I’m not charity, Jimmy.’ And Moontrug LOVED how Felix called Viggo ‘Vigs’ and ‘Viggy’ within minutes of them meeting – brilliant.
Viggo is awesome (Moontrug imagined him as a sort of Pierce Brosnan type) – and the constant threat underpinning the plot (‘He let out a yawn the size of the city and didn’t notice the thin, dark figure of the only other person in the shadows that night. It had started following him’) drives the story forward with relentless energy. A must read for 8-12-year-old action junkies – and luckily for them there are another seven books in the series! In this first book Jimmy is named a killer – but in the second, he’s the target…