Tuesday 14 August 2018

The Institute of Fantastical Inventions

The Institute of Fantastical Inventions by Dave Leys, illustrated by Shane Ogilvie (Harbour Publishing House) PP RRP  $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-922134-93-6

Reviewed by Julie Dascoli

For all your wildest fantasies, the Institute of Fantastical Inventions is the go to place. The more absurd your fantasy is, the more they like it at IFI.

With a huge team of scientists, headed by Director Baldy Bob, we have Leo McGuffin, the main character, Edward Bump, the child genius, Andrea Allsop, and many others. The teams put their expertise together to make the zaniest of requests come true for their clients. The outrageous requests include a person who wants a third leg that glows in the dark and a young  girl who wants steam to blow out of her ears like a locomotive.

After discovering the plans for all of the fantasies from IFI have been stolen by Pip Poplet, the villain and in secret partnership with their Director, Director Baldybob, Leo and his wacky science mates set out to catch the crook and expose the director for the traitor that he is. 

Leo’s prickly relationship with Andrea Allsop is set aside to solve the crime, and almost becomes a romance. (Not that Leo realizes it.) The Outrageous plan the scientists plot to save the company is every bit as crazy as the ideas they come up with for their clients.

This is Dave Leys’ first young adult novel. From Sydney, Leys is an English teacher who, according to him, wishes he was good at science. Undoubtedly, he has tapped into the wacky craziness that children enjoy reading, and just maybe McGuffin is his alter ego.

When I picked up this small, novel, the colourful cover with the wacky, illustrated characters, intertwined in the title, I somehow had a good idea where this story was going to take me. The black and white illustrations throughout, in a cartoon style, are funny and engaging and assist in the telling of this story: Shane Ogilvie certainly helped us know the characters.

This is a great read for both boys and girls between the ages of 8 to 11 years. The wacky adventure and sense of humour will keep them reading on. It’s a book suitable for readers of David Walliams and those who enjoy light mystery/sleuth bookswith a crazy slant -- lovers.



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