I Swapped My Brother on the Internet
By Jo Simmons
Published by Bloomsbury
ISBN 978 1 4088 9649 5
Book titles don’t come any more obvious than this. Jonny is exasperated and often upset by Ted, his elder brother. Ted isn’t a bad person. He just does what elder brothers do to younger siblings: he teases and criticises.
Jo Simmons’ fun romp for younger readers is a hilarious tale
of wish fulfilment that goes very wrong. It’s a scenario that every youngster with a troublesome brother or sister will fully relate to.
How amazing it would be if we could choose our siblings like we choose food from a shelf in the supermarket?
Everyone has dreamed of being able to get rid of their brother or sister at one point or another, and for Jonny the dream becomes a reality when he comes across a website called SiblingSwap.com. Is this really a chance for Jonny to replace obnoxious Ted with something better?
Jonny fills in the form and clicks send. Now all he has to do is wait.
Jonny soon discovers that finding the perfect brother is far from easy, as Sibling Swap sends him a line of increasingly odd replacements. First, there is Mervyn who, on the surface seems to be just the brother Jonny wants. He’s kind, and fun, and the two boys get on really well.
But Mervyn is hiding a secret. When he gets wet, he turns into a merboy and all he really wants to do is wallow around in the sea or the local pond. Jonny finds that having a merboy as a brother is just a bit difficult and unsuitable, so he returns poor Mervyn to Sibling Swap and asks for a replacement.
Exit Mervyn, and enter Hari, a hyperactive boy who just happened to have been brought up by meerkats. So yes, he acts like one.
He gets sent back.
Then follows a nightmare of a brother to end all nightmare brothers. Jonny’s third replacement sibling is the ghost of the notorious English monarch King Henry the Eighth. Suddenly, Ted doesn’t seem like such a bad option after all.
As the chaos piles up around poor Jonny, it’s quite obvious where the story is going, but that doesn’t spoil the fun.
Simmons is a lively writer who knows how to crank up the fun.
I Swapped My Brother on the internet is very much a one-idea story, but fortunately Simmons wraps it all up before any tedium sets in.
This is a undemanding, lively caper for younger readers, who most certainly might rethink any idea of swapping their sibling when they read what Jonny goes through.
John Millen can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org