Odd things happen to Archie every day. Some very odd things. On Monday, a piano rolls down the hill and traps his new friend Cyd in her mum's car. And then a truck tips a load of gravel on top of it. But don't worry—she's ok. Actually, Cyd finds it exciting though of course, she doesn't believe that this sort of thing happens to Archie every day—until they find themselves trapped in a house with a sedated lion trainer, and a very awake lion. Poor Archie! But as he soon discovers, if odd things have to happen to ...
Odd things happen to Archie every day. Some very odd things. On Monday, a piano rolls down the hill and traps his new friend Cyd in her mum's car. And then a truck tips a load of gravel on top of it. But don't worry—she's ok. Actually, Cyd finds it exciting though of course, she doesn't believe that this sort of thing happens to Archie every day—until they find themselves trapped in a house with a sedated lion trainer, and a very awake lion. Poor Archie! But as he soon discovers, if odd things have to happen to him, it's a lot better if they happen when Cyd's around.
Join Archie and Cyd for a whole week's worth of completely surprising and outrageously funny escapades.
Gr 4–6—Each of seven chapters follows one day in young Archie's week, beginning with the boy on an errand or out with his friend Cyd. Every day ends with the errand or outing incomplete and his mother declaring, "Honestly, I don't believe it, Archie." What his mother doesn't believe is the series of odd events that derail her son's plans, from confronting a leopard to foiling the kidnapping of a stranger who turns out to be Archie's wealthy look-alike, also named Archie. The events are not a plot but a series of unrelated mishaps and misunderstandings, undermining the book's appealing premise. In Sunday's climax, four characters from previous days reappear at preposterously convenient moments, straining credibility even in a book meant to be humorous. British terms (lorry, trainers, jumper) are sprinkled throughout, but the setting could be any suburban town. Characterization is completely absent. Archie remains unaffected by the strange things that always seem to happen around him. Cyd, introduced in chapter one, is limited to being a witness to clear Archie's name at the end of each mix-up. Black-and-white illustrations are plentiful but appear to be drawn by a middle-school-aged child, conflicting with the third-person narration. Archie might provide readers with a few chuckles, but little else. A better choice for funny, improbable-adventure fiction is Mary Amato's "Riot Brothers" series (Holiday House).—M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Booklist, March 1, 2012:
“Superb comic timing….readers will be vastly entertained by Archie’s misadventures.”
- Joyce Rice
If there is trouble to be had, little boys always seem to find it. Every time Archie goes out of the house, something really odd happens to him. On Monday, his mom sent him to mail a letter and he encountered Cyd, a young girl trapped in her car by a rolling piano and a fire hydrant. On Tuesday, his mom sent him to buy some milk and even with his new friend Cyd along, he manages to get in trouble with two older ladies about their dog. On Wednesday, Archie's task is to return some library books and he manages instead to become involved in a library protest and get both hands glued to the library doors. On Thursday, Archie and Cyd decide to play some games in the park but instead Archie encounters people who are looking for a kidnapped boy that looks just like him. It isn't that Archie wants to get in trouble with his mom, but it seems that every errand she sends him on gets him wrapped up in other people's problems. When it comes time to help Cyd solve her problems, Archie proves to be a true friend. This is a delightful chapter book for young readers with enough repetition and adventure to hold their interest. Norris obviously remembers what it was like to be a young boy, full of energy and ideas for adventure. Fans of this author will also want to read Archie's Unbelievably Freaky Week. We can only hope that Norris gives us even more stories about Archie. This is an excellent addition for elementary fiction collections. Reviewer: Joyce Rice
Some are born to mayhem (Ivy + Bean come to mind), some achieve mayhem (Dav Pilkey's George and Harold)—and then there's Archie. Whenever he walks out the door (usually on an errand for his long-suffering mother) mayhem awaits, ready to thrust itself upon him. Wildly improbable, exciting events attach themselves to Archie every single day. Luckily, Archie has Cyd on his side, the girl he rescues from a rogue piano and, later, a giant heap of gravel. Realizing the thrilling life her new friend leads, Cyd begs to be included in future adventures and quickly proves her worth. When Archie find himself glued to the library doors, Cyd fetches her nurse mum while Archie fortuitously foils a plan to replace the library with a parking lot. Sharply observant Cyd is on hand to explain when he's mistaken for a kidnapping victim and when he's accused of robbery that's really the work of Big Barry Bolan and Fergus O'Donnell. (These very Irish names among a cast of mostly unnamed adults strike the book's only sour note.) Hannah Shaw's cheery illustrations deftly document the chaos (as in Katie Davies' Anna and Suzanne books, Shaw's gift for conveying feline moods is on display) and disapproving adults who invariably misunderstand what's happening. A winning American debut from this well-established winner of England's Whitbread Award. (Fiction.7-10)
ANDREW NORRISS has written many books for children; he is best known for Aquila, a novel that won the Whitbread Award and a Smarties Prize and was made into a BBC television series. Andrew is also known as a sitcom writer, whose works include The Brittas Empire, Matt's Millions, and Woof!
On Monday, when Archie had been sent out to post a letter, something rather odd happened.
He was halfway down the hill that led to the post office when he heard a rumbling noise, turned round, and saw a piano coming down the middle of the road. There was nobody with it. It was just a large upright piano, trundling down the hill all on its own.
Archie was surprised, though probably not as surprised as you or I would be, because odd things happened to Archie every day. Some very odd things. As you will see.
While he watched, the piano slowed down, veered slightly over to one side of the road, and then stopped.
When he went over for a closer look, he heard a voice.
‘I don’t believe it!’ said the voice. ‘What am I supposed to do now?’
Looking round the end of the piano, Archie saw a girl about his own age, sitting in the front passenger seat of a small car.
‘I’m stuck, aren’t I!’ said the girl. ‘How am I supposed to get out?’
The car she was sitting in only had two doors and it had been parked so that one of them was right up against a lamp post. The other one was now blocked by the piano.
‘Could you move it or something?’ asked the girl.
‘I don’t think so,’ said Archie. He was not very big and it was quite a heavy piano.
‘Well, could you go and tell my mum what’s happened?’ asked the girl. She pointed to a house on the other side of the road. ‘She’s in there. Number sixteen.’
Archie thought about it. ‘You want me to go in there . . .’
‘Just tell anyone you see that Cyd is trapped in a car,’ said the girl. ‘They all know me.’
‘Right,’ said Archie. ‘OK . . .’
He crossed the road, walked up a path, and found the front door of number sixteen was open. In the hallway inside, a woman was talking on the phone.
‘But he promised to have that piano delivered by ten o’clock!’ she was saying. ‘How am I supposed to give singing lessons without a piano . . . ? Well, could you find out, please . . . ? Thank you!’
She put down the phone and saw Archie in the doorway. ‘What do you want?’ she asked impatiently.
‘I’m sorry to bother you,’ said Archie, ‘but Cyd asked me to tell you—’
‘Sid?’ the woman frowned. ‘You have a message from Sid? Is it about my piano?’
‘Well,’ Archie hesitated, ‘I suppose it could be.’ He pointed outside. ‘You see, the piano out there is blocking the—’
‘What is my piano doing in the middle of the road?’ interrupted the woman, staring out through the doorway.
‘Well . . .’ said Archie.
‘Oh, never mind!’ The woman had turned on her heel. ‘I’ll find someone to bring it inside.’ And she strode off down the hallway and was gone.
Archie went back to the girl in the car. He thought she might like to know that someone was coming to move the piano, but he found when he got there that the girl had already got someone else to help.
‘I’m just going to push the car forward a bit,’ said an elderly man in a green raincoat, ‘so that your friend can get out. It won’t take a moment!’
Archie stood out of the way on the pavement, while the man pushed the car. It rolled forward very easily and was soon at a point where Cyd could have opened either of the doors.
‘All right!’ said the man. ‘You can put the brake on now.’
‘Put it on what?’ asked the girl.
The car, Archie noticed, was still rolling forward.
‘The brake!’ said the man. ‘The handle beside your seat. You need to pull it!’
Archie could see the girl in the car reach for the brake handle and pull on it, but the car did not stop. It had got to a steep bit of the hill and was, if anything, going faster.
‘You have to pull it harder than that!’ shouted the man, running alongside the car. ‘Come on! Pull!’
‘I’m pulling it as hard as I can!’ the girl shouted back. ‘It’s not working!’
She sounded frightened and Archie could see why. The car was still picking up speed and, directly in front of it, further down the road, was an enormous lorry. If the car crashed into it . . .