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The Institute of Fantastical Inventions by Dave Leys

Leo McGuffin has the best job in the world. He works for the Institute of Fantastical Inventions (IFI), making people’s fantasies come true. Want to float around the house like a bubble and pop at midnight? No problem. Have you always wanted to be an astronaut but you’re too short or have poor eyesight. Never fear, the IFI will make it happen.

While Leo is a talented scientists, his people skills leave a lot to be desired. His relationship with colleague Dr Andrea Allsop is evidence of that. When boy wonder Edward joins up with Leo, they must help Roger Mumble become an international man of mystery. When the pair uncover a plan to steal and sell the IFI’s array of magnificent inventions, can the gang outwit the spies and save IFI from ruin?

Leys’s first novel is fast-paced, full of humour and quirky characters, and a fun read. Leys creates a chaotic world of fantasy, imagination and espionage. Aimed for readers around the late primary to intermediate age, it’s easy to read alone, but also a great book to read aloud. Punchy chapters and plenty of action will keep parents entertained as well. Illustrations by Shane Ogilvie add to the allure, providing wonderful pictures of the wacky world.

Leys is an English teacher by day, and it’s evident to see this in his story. He knows what will capture children’s attention and imagination. The humour is perfectly pitched to the audience. The world of IFI is a child’s dream, with outrageous requests including a person that wants a third leg that glows in the dark, and a girl who wants steam to blow from her ears like a train. I can see this book sparking a wonderful teaching unit within a classroom.

The Institute of Fantastical Inventions is a cracking celebration of science, magic, and the power of imagination. An interesting new talent that lovers of David Walliams or Roald Dahl will enjoy.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Harbour Publishing House, RRP $14.99


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