Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me by Bethany Walker

Illustrated by Jack Noel.

Published by Scholastic, 2021.

Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me is written entirely in letters, mostly between 10-year-old Freddy and his parents, who he believes are on a Brussels sprouts farm in Outer Castonga with no internet or phone access. In fact, Freddy’s parents are secret agents out of the country on a highly classified mission: to intercept criminal mastermind Dr Alpha Bett before he can put his plans for world domination into action.

Despite supposedly being the top agents at the International Espionage Agency, Freddy’s parents AKA Agents Bubble and Squeak appear to be rather inept. In a series of hilarious escapades at various top tourist destinations around the world they make countless bungled attempts to capture Dr Alpha Bett.

Back home with Grandad, Freddy has got problems of his own. He’s started a new school and is having trouble making friends, he’s attracted the unwelcome attention of the school bully and his crush on Samira is unrequited. Plus, Grandad is feeding him sprouts with every meal.

Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me is a brilliantly funny and highly entertaining read. There are loads of references to James Bond and some pretty nifty gadgets too: a laser blaster gun, x-ray glasses, Doc Martens with a secret camera, and cuff links with the power to send your rival to sleep. The book is also packed full of funny puns; my absolute favourite is Agent Harry Covair (you’ll spot a vegetable theme running throughout the book). Much of the humour lies in Freddy’s naivety; he has absolutely no clue that his parents are secret agents. The illustrated letter format is also highly engaging. Jack Noel’s illustrations are terrific.

Fans of Tom Gates, Pamela Butchart and Alex Rider will lap this up. I can definitely see Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me being a big hit with the children I teach.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this book to review. I reviewed it as part of the Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me blog tour where author Bethany Walker talked to me about the book’s editing process. Click here for a behind-the-scenes account of how the book progressed from a draft to a finished story.

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