Laughs and super stuff

My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord


Cyborgs, snot-rays and even a Latin Star Wars joke combine in My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons (Nosy Crow, £6.99). Schoolboy Zach Parker, aka Star Lad, is a superhero but his brother Luke is not. When left-out Luke discovers a plot to take over the earth, led by an evil PE mistress, nobody will believe him. So he slopes off to play endless rounds of Puny Earthlings! - an addictive new video game, set in his home town of Bromley. It's just innocent entertainment and couldn't possibly lead to an alien invasion, could it? Armed only with a protractor and a jaunty cry of: "Hypotenuse this!" maybe at last it is Luke's turn to save the world. Superhilarious, for age nine up, with extra gags for parents.

Joseph Wilkes has gained the nickname "Wilco" by being such a pushover that he will even do homework for the class bully. But Joseph lives in a world where teenagers can acquire, yes, superpowers - and suddenly he is metamorphosing into Wonder Boy (Andersen, £7.99). His struggles with friendship, love and levitating marbles are touching as well as funny. Nicole Burstein's novel is set in an almost-realistic world and is pitched at age 10 to teens.

The teenagers in Sarah Mlynowski's Think Twice (Orchard, £6.99) have developed, wait for it, superpowers, ESP in fact, as a side-effect of flu jabs. Now they are destined for top universities or, in one case, an elite spying job - everybody loves a psychic teen. The less-academic are starring in a reality show or making a mint at the poker table. Until, one by one, they lose their powers. Are their futures ruined? Thoughts are rendered in italics and speech in regular type - the interplay between them is comedy gold. Age 14 up.

No superpowers but plenty of introspection for the young cast of You Know Me Well (Macmillan, £7.99). Writing in alternate chapters, Nina laCour voices Kate, an artistic teenager who lacks confidence and longs to go out with the sparkly Violet, and David Levithan speaks for Mark, who wishes his best friend Ryan was something more. The setting is San Francisco in Pride Week and almost all the characters happen to be gay, though this is incidental to the plot, which is a charming, wistful, Woody Allenesque romantic quest.

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