I Stole My Genius Sister's Brain by Jo Simmons illustrated by Nathan Reed (Bloomsbury £6.99)

This is the story of Keith, a happy quirky young boy who happens to have a genius for a sister and feels neglected and overlooked by his parents.

He is desperate to go the inventor’s fair in Paris and comes up with the idea of stealing his sister's brain so he can compete in Junior Mega Brain, win the prize money and get to the fair.  

It is a book that celebrates silliness. It is about the joy of silliness and the necessity for it in everyone’s childhood and family life.

This is what Keith's big sister learns and his parents too (eventually). It is what his grandad (who lives on a houseboat with a parrot called Peanuts) has known all along.

To set the tone, did I mention his full name is Keith Keithstofferson. There is so much to like about this book, from Keith's crazy inventions like the Sniffometer of Health and the Anti-Heat Headgear to the experiments with sausages and toenails and pigeons and Marmite.

Keith is excited by fun facts (of which he shares many) and does experiments to discover more (empirically proving foxes like sandwiches).  It makes the point that curiosity and creativity have valid uses in a world that can all too often focus too narrowly on academic achievement.

That said, it also acknowledges that those who do appear super-smart, like his sister Min (short for Minerva), have to work very hard to learn all that stuff.  

The relationship between Min and Keith is very sweet as each gets an insight into each other’s world that they hadn’t really appreciated before.

The plot includes a great parody on the modern quiz and the cult of the overnight celebrity as the hashtag #KeepitKeith takes off.

The illustrations by Nathan Reed add to the zany feel of the book.  It's a fun book for the Tom Gates and Wimpy Kid readers but also a fun chapter book to read together because it has lots of laugh out loud moments to share. 

Philippa Morris

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