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How to Train Your Parents by Pete Johnson
Published by Corgi Books, 2003

Reviewed by Newmarket-on-Fergus book club

Louis and his family have recently moved house. Louis has changed schools to a new school, which he nicknames ‘swotsville’. All of their new neighbours put pressure on their children to get A’s in school, and to attend French horn or piano lessons, and French grinds. They constantly compare their children’s performances with the neighbours’ children. Louis’s parents try to follow their example to portray a similar image of perfectionism. His new friend Theo gets an A minus on every exam, takes French horn lessons and does three hours homework in the evening. Unfortunately, Louis’s ambition is to be a comedian and so he does not really care about schoolwork.

He meets a girl called Maddy at a drama club, which he succumbs to attending under pressure from his parents. She thinks Louis is very funny, and decides to become his agent. When she enters him into a talent competition, Louis is thrilled, but his parents do not permit him to go. Louis finds an alternative plan and decides to skip school to attend the talent competition. Maddy decides to outline to him the principles of how to train his parents. She claims that her parents used to behave equally as bad until she trained them. However, it does not seem to work very well for Louis and he has to run away from home to attend the next stage of the competition.

In the end Theo’s family, the icon of perfectionism, falls apart, and Louis’s parents realise that they have been placing too much pressure on Louis’s and his brother Elliot’s school performances and extracurricular activities. They become a loving and happy family once again.

All the members of the bookclub found it to be an excellent read - a page-turner, and very funny throughout. The language was easy to understand: it was descriptive and colourful, and flowed easily from one situation to the next.

Marks: 8 out of 10.