The class book review: Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space

Sleuth and sci-fi mix lets you have cake and eat it

Emily Marcuccilli

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Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space
By AF Harrold
Illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s

Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space is a wonderful blend of science-fiction epic and super-sleuth mystery, with liberal helpings of cake and laughter thrown in for good measure. Greta lives alone (after her parents “accidentally died”), and she does so successfully, despite having to survive on sherbet for lunch. Her aunt Tabitha, a scientist and creator of the world’s only giant squirrel with a peanut allergy, provides support and encouragement.

Greta is determined to become a journalist and get a Big Scoop. With the disappearance of numerous cakes in her town, it seems the perfect story has landed in her lap. What she does not know is that space-going robots from the planet Cestrypip have been destroying planets across the universe, and are heading towards Earth. Greta may be the only person who can save us.

This story fizzes with intelligent-yet-quirky humour throughout, some of which is aimed at the adult reader, especially in the naming of characters such as circus contortionist Bertram Rustle. There is plenty to keep the younger reader chuckling, too. There are little asides that appear as footnotes along the edges of the pages, alerting the reader, for example, to the difference between a serial cake thief and a cereal-cake thief (the latter having a taste for Rice Krispie cakes).

Greta herself is a superb, if unwitting, heroine and I loved the illustrations by Joe Todd-Stanton. This book is sure to appeal to readers from 8 to 11. More Greta Zargo, please!

Emily Marcuccilli is librarian at King’s Hall School, Taunton, Somerset

Pupil reviews

‘A world of amusing adventure’

If you like laugh-out-loud, joke-filled stories, then Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space is the book for you.

Eleven-year-old Greta Zargo is a clever schoolgirl/newspaper reporter on a mission to win the Prilchard-Spritzer story-writing medal. There are death robots travelling through the universe who are destroying planets, who due to a misunderstanding, think

Greta is the leader of all Earthlings and this leads to a world of amusing adventure.

I liked Greta because she is determined and funny. My favourite character was Jonathan, a giant squirrel with a peanut allergy and a sweet tooth. The idea of a giant cake-eating squirrel with a peanut allergy is beyond hilarious.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes rib-cracking jokes and cake, as this book is full of both.

JJ, Year 5

‘Part detective story, part science fiction’

I liked this book because it was funny and interesting. It was part detective story, part science fiction. I liked the way the huge, space-going robots took planets apart and made them into museums of what was there before, so that actually the information was useless. I also liked how the destruction of so many planets was due to how the robots did not understand word play, humour and sarcasm. It was funny how Greta Zargo, while on the track of the notorious Upper Lowerbridge cake thief, without knowing it, saves the planet.

Toby, Year 4

‘It made me not want to stop reading’

Greta Zargo is a book full of mystery and adventure. There is also a lot of excitement. There are lots of amazing jokes that made me laugh. There are even more jokes in the footnotes.

In this book, there is a robot invasion and a very naughty cake thief who Greta is trying to catch. But unfortunately she fails the first couple of times. She gathers more information and sets cunning traps to catch the thief red-handed.

It made me not want to stop reading. My parents even had to turn the lights out in my room, I was reading it so much.

Chapter 18 is epic. This book explains all the words you are likely not to know the meaning of, so I learnt lots of great new words. I wish the author would write another book.

Emily, Year 5

‘The space-going robots were very cool’

I loved Greta Zargo. I love the way that the book has one chapter in space and one in Upper Lowerbridge. I thought it was really funny. It had a great story line. I especially liked the lady with the beard. She was a bit strict!

The space-going robots were very cool. I enjoyed the different alien languages. The names of the planets, like Ramflot and Cestrypip, were really imaginative.

People who like mysteries with humour would enjoy this book. Greta Zargo’s character is so mysterious and no one could really know everything about her.

If AF Harrold wrote another story about her, I would love to read it. The party she went to sounded really epic because people were dressed as galactic space robots, satellites and aliens. It was an awesome book.

Grace, Year 4

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Emily Marcuccilli

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