Unk Island is not a place that gets many visitors. Shaped like a broken coffin, it squats at the very back end of nowhere, and is said by those who have seen it to be the ugliest lump of land to be found in all the seven seas. On days like today, cloud-hung and rain-lashed, it was about as welcoming as a bucket of rotten fish guts.
Yet, vile as the island might appear, six nautical miles away a ship was heading in its direction through the slab-like waves of an ink-black sea.
Mort has lived on remote and inhospitable looking Unk Island for a long time. A very long time. He and his family age more slowly than the general population. His parents are away, his sister Agnetha has her own diversions and he’s experimenting with the assistance of a few clones: Leonardo da Vinci, Robert Oppenheimer, HG Wells and others. So it’s actually an advantage that no one visits. Mort notices the arrival of Patricia Molyneux and her assistant Nigel Spalding, and although he has no idea why they’re here, on this day he has more reasons than usual to avoid visitors. Start the clock ticking, because Mort’s day is just beginning and he’s got plans. Big plans. Plans that do not include playing host to unknown visitors who want who-knows-what.
‘Mort: The 10,000-Year-Old Boy’ is a hoot. From the pet who grew too big, to the warlord who does Mort’s bidding, to the machinations of the trio in his laboratory, this remote island has more secrets than a busload of spies. Where children might collect toys, Mort collects historical figures, but only those he can manipulate to play his wild games. ‘Mort’ is the first in a new series from Martin Chatterton and is sure to have readers chuckling and cheering at each twist and new development. Just as Mort, viewpoint character has the power to see what others on the island are up to, the reader is ahead of Mort in knowing what’s going on around them. But Mort has been around a long time, and his powers of adaptation are very well-developed. Recommended for middle-primary readers and anyone who wants to know what Sir David Attenborough does between shows.
Mort: The 10,000-Year-Old Boy, Martin Chatterton Random House Australia 2012 ISBN: 9781742753157
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.