Duncan Versus the Googleys by Kate Milner

‘Bad people in chaotic situations are not always very fair’.

Oh my goodness, what a gorgeously topsy turvy and brilliant story from Kate Milner! There is absolutely nothing ordinary or boring about this book – kids will love it.

Meet Ursula who from the very beginning, we realise is not living an ‘ordinary’ life. We learn that she sleeps in a cardboard bed with newspaper blankets and shares only one room with her father, Mr Meager who is the caretaker for the most amazingly named retirement complex ever: Arthritis Hall. Whilst he works, Ursula explores. On the face of it, you’d think Ursula would be rather down in the dumps but there is nothing sad about this story. Ursula, like every other child in this world, covets the latest toy craze – robotic pets called Poo-Chi Pets…

Ursula’s story runs alongside that of Duncan who owns a Poo-Chi pet called Gizzmo. He also has the Poo-Chi Pet app on his phone – Poo-Chi Planet – and he plays it ALL THE TIME along with various other children from around the world: Zhang from Shanghai, coding expert Kobe from Kenya and Ratboy Ryan from Australia. At the start of the story, he is travelling to Arthritis Hall to stay with his Great Aunt Harriet. Harriet is no gentle old lady leading a quiet life. Far from it. She is a rather mad inventor whose previous successes include a mechanical armadillo and a robot postman!

As you may already have worked out, Arthritis Hall (with its executive helipad on the roof) is no ordinary retirement complex. It is managed by the tiny but terrifying Linoleum Grunt (yes, really!) who makes it abundantly clear that children are not welcome. ‘You will be required to stay in one place at all times and make no noise whatsoever’… As well as Linoleum and Harriet, it is also home to Mrs Pettigrew who turns out to be a world class computer game player and Pork Pie the cat.

But things at Arthritis Hall are not destined to just chug along peacefully. A new robotic toy is hitting the shelves. Will Googleys prove more popular than Poo-Chi Pets? There are people out there that will make damn certain of it…

‘Duncan could not help feeling that the whole world was a bit more mad than he could cope with’.

I loved the craziness of this story and read it in one sitting. Stylistically, it is different to any other kid’s book I’ve read and there is so much within it that children today will identify with that they are sure to be sucked in. Highly recommended.

Page count: 224

Age group: 8 – 10 years





I would like to thank both Net Galley and Pushkin Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.