Sleepover Takeover by Simon James-Green, illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff

Publication Date: 6 January 2022

The Blurb

For Otis, this was a sleepover to remember – if only he could!

When dorky, unpopular 11-yr-old Otis wakes up in the morning at a sleepover birthday party, he’s in for a shock. At the marquee where the sleepover took place, it’s a scene of carnage and mayhem: there’s a donkey drinking at the chocolate fountain, a huge inflatable helium sausage looms above, doves everywhere, one of the kids has a tattoo, and there’s a suitcase of bratwurst on the floor! But what’s weirdest of all, neither Otis nor the other kids can remember what happened!

The party was in the back garden of popular kid Rocco Rococo’s huge house, and Otis was only there because his mum forced an invitation. Otis realizes that makes him Prime Suspect for causing the mess, and he needs to clear his name.

Meanwhile, Rocco just needs to keep his parents from finding out!

So while everyone else makes a befuddled exit, Otis and Rocco reluctantly team up to hide the evidence. They decide to retrace their steps in the hope of solving the mystery…

The Review

Having absolutely loved The Life Of Riley, I couldn’t wait to read Simon’s second Middle Grade novel, and it definitely hit the mark. Home Alone meets The Hangover for children in an utterly joyous riot of a read from beginning to end!

The laughs come thick and fast from the very first page as we get to know Otis, Jagger and the rest his class at the party of the century. Blending slapstick, farce and toilet humour there is something to lift the corners of the grumpiest mouth. The children lurch from crisis to chaos at every turn as they try to do the right thing and work out what exactly happened the night before.

Alexsei’s illustrations bring the crazy calamities the children find themselves in to life and showcase the carnage they leave in their wake as the story progresses.

I love that this celebrates being true to yourself and finding your tribe – the people you can truly be yourself with and have fun! The friendship between Otis and Jagger is easy and relaxed as they accept each other for who they are, and delight in enjoying each other’s company. There is also a clear message about not taking people at face value, but taking the time to get to know others better, beyond the front they present in class. Kindness and teamwork shine throughout adding a huge dose of heart to the humour, and making this a fantastic read for empathy.

Great for fans of:

  • The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson, illustrated by Rob Biddulph
  • The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter
  • Uma And The Answer To Absolutely Everything by Sam Copeland, illustrated by Sarah Horne

Huge thanks to Scholastic for sending me a copy and brightening up my January!