Watch Tom’s Bedtime Story:
When Murph Cooper rocks up to his new school several weeks into the beginning of term, he can’t help but feel a bit out of his depth. And it’s not because he’s worried about where to sit, and making friends, and fitting in, or not knowing where the loos are. It’s because his mum has enrolled him at a school for superheroes by mistake. And unlike his fellow students, who can all control the weather or fly or conjure tiny horses from thin air, Murph has no special abilities whatsoever. But just because you don’t have superpowers, it doesn’t mean you can’t save the day.
Read Tom’s Review:
For people who like Harry Potter and Superhero movies.
I’d been looking forward to this book since I first heard that those dudes from the radio were writing one and I’m very pleased to say that it doesn’t suck! Kid Normal is a superhero story except the hero isn’t super, he’s a kid and, you guessed it, totally NORMAL! I laughed throughout and even shed a tear at the end.
There’s a kid in the final year called Barry Talbot who can make his teeth scream. What use is that? It frightens the dentist, I suppose.
Read an Extract from Kid Normal:
The New House
Murph hated the new house more than he could remember hating anything, ever. A light wind, such as you often find at the beginning of a story, tousled his shaggy brown hair as he stood looking up at it. He was trying to work out, with all the power of his just-eleven-year-old brain, why it made him feel so incredibly rotten.
It was a prime candidate for the Most Depressing Room in the Rubbish New House Award, and it was up against some stiff competition.
The problem with the new house was … it was just so new. When Murph was smaller he’d lived in a much older house, with interesting wooden stairs that led to an interestingly dingy attic full of interesting boxes, and there was a garden with interesting trees to climb and interesting dens to build. It had been the sort of house adventures happen in – although, to be fair, they never actually had. But the potential was there.
Now there was no chance those adventures would ever happen. Four years ago, Murph, his mum and his brother had left that house behind when his mum’s job had forced them all to move to a new town. That had been bad enough. But, just a year later, they’d had to move again. And then again. Then again. So here he was, a third of his lifetime away from the rambling old rooms he’d loved so much, staring at yet another new house and wishing someone would blow it up or set fire to it. Which, in fact, they would. But he didn’t know that just yet.
Even if Murph had known that the new house would be a smoking ruin within a few short months, it wouldn’t have cheered him up very much. Underneath a brownish drizzly evening sky that matched his mood perfectly, he heaved cardboard boxes into the box-like house and dumped them in the echoing hall, which was painted a pale shade of green almost exactly matching the colour of cat sick.
Murph’s new bedroom was painted a different but equally horrible green colour, like an avocado that had gone out of fashion. It was a prime candidate for the Most Depressing Room in the Rubbish New House Award, and it was up against some stiff competition. It had nothing in it except a mattress on the floor and a set of white drawers. Had it been daytime, the curtain-less window would have offered a view of the oily canal at the back of the house, and a brick wall on the other side. Murph was glad it was dark.
With a sigh, he unzipped his bag and started to unpack, bunging jeans and T-shirts into the drawers more or less at random. Eventually he came to the last four items in the bag, but instead of putting them away, Murph laid them out on the bare mattress and sat down crosslegged on the floor to look at them.
They were four grey shirts – the shirts he’d worn on his last day at his last four schools. The first was covered with signatures in felt tip: it had been a tradition there that if someone was leaving, everyone got to write a farewell message.
We’ll miss you, buddy, from Max
Stay in touch, superstar! Sam
Don’t leave us, Mighty Murph! Lucas
There were other signatures and messages too, covering most of the grey material with cheerful, multicoloured letters.
Don’t leave us!
But he’d had to leave – all because of his mum’s job. And he’d meant to stay in touch – but he’d been busy that following year, making new friends to replace the ones he’d had to abandon.
He picked up the second shirt and read the names of those new friends. Not so many names on this second shirt, but still some kind words.
Can’t believe you’re moving after just a year! Love, Pia
Murph! We’ll miss you. Come back soon, mate. Tom
Shirt number three had only a couple of names written in biro as a last-minute thought; he’d wanted some kind of memory to cling on to.
As you’ll know if you’ve ever moved house, the First Night Takeaway is a very important ritual.
The fourth shirt was clean and unmarked.
Murph folded the shirts back up and piled them into the bottom drawer of the white cabinet.
He’d made no friends in the last year. He’d been convinced, and rightly so, that one day soon his mum would break it to him over dinner that they were going to have to move again. Other people had become like TV programmes to Murph. There was no point getting too involved, because you never knew when someone was going to come along and change the channel.
As you’ll know if you’ve ever moved house, the First Night Takeaway is a very important ritual. And like every family that’s ever moved into a new home, Murph, his brother, Andy, and his mum sat down to eat takeaway that night with a weird feeling that they were in someone else’s home, and someone really needed to turn up the heating.
They ate out of the silver foil containers because his mum couldn’t find the box with the plates in. Murph knew exactly which one it was, but he was too busy stopping his older brother stealing his prawn crackers.
‘Those are mine, you big lump!’ he shouted as Andy reached across like a greedy octopus and pulled out a greasy fistful.
‘You don’t need a whole bag to yourself, Smurph Face!’ the big sixteen-year-old lump replied.
‘Yes, I do,’ spluttered Murph, cracker debris fountaining out of his mouth like the end of one of those big impressive fireworks, only prawn-scented. ‘And don’t call me Smurph Face. You know I don’t like it.’
‘Sorry, Smurph Face,’ said Andy proudly, with the air of someone who’d just said something incredibly clever.
‘Come on, you two,’ sighed their mum. ‘Andy, don’t call your brother Smurph Face. And, Smurph Face, share your prawn crackers.’
‘MUM!’ shouted Smurph Fa– sorry – Murph. The others chuckled, and he reluctantly joined in: ‘You’re ganging up on me. As if it wasn’t bad enough getting dragged to nowheresville to live in a shoebox. I am not a shoe!’
His mum put a comforting hand on his cheek. ‘I know you’re not a shoe. And I know you didn’t want to move again.’ Murph watched as she tilted her head back, apparently to fend off a couple of mum-style tears. She didn’t want to come and live here either, he thought to himself.
‘I know it’s going to take a while to settle in,’ Murph’s mum told them both, ‘but just you wait, boys. You’ll have a great time in the end, I promise. We’re going to make the best of things here. It’s going to be …’ She paused, searching for the right word, and though Murph didn’t realise it at the time, she found the perfect one. ‘It’s going to be … super.’