The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley is an original engaging middle grade book with a bit of a magic and a lot of heart.
Noah Bradley is a pretty normal kid, the only thing is, he can’t really live a normal life. This is through no fault of his own, but lies in an old curse put on his family which means they can’t live anywhere longer than a year, or bad things start to happen. Like real bad (think earthquakes, big scary black birds, floods etc etc).
Noah and his family are pretty used to moving… but Noah loves their thirteenth home and everything that comes with it, so starts to fight back against the curse.
I really really love the premise for this book. I think it is incredibly original and the plot was well structured with nice relatable interesting characters. I also adored the introduction at the start of the book about the family curse with it’s fairy tale vibe – really attention grabbing and intriguing and I think it will drag in even reluctant readers and reminds me a touch of one of the best series of all time – A Series of Unfortunate Events. I also love that the story didn’t do things I was expecting – like glossing over them moving to a new place and school (which has been done before in plenty of middle grade) and instead just jumped into this intriguing and unique story plot.
I love Noah and found him to be a fantastic and worthy protagonist. He is funny and clever and adaptable, but also a little self conscious, and is just trying to figure out who he is – which makes sense for a kid who has to move around a lot. This is the thing that drives his character development and arc and is definitely a dilemma most kids will understand.
“If I were an animal, I would be a chameleon. I would change into a thousand different colours to fit in wherever I wanted. But sometimes it felt like I’d forgotten what colour I was really meant to be.”
I also like Neena, the quirky girl from school who loves detective books and has a bright red coat and glittery doc martens, but doesn’t have any friends and is bullied at school. Noah becomes friends with Neena, even though his new friends at school don’t like her. She was such a great side character and really challenged Noah, but also brought the best out of him. Their interactions were some of my favourite parts of the book, and also that of Noah’s little brother Billy.
This is just such a brilliant story that is funny and wild and quirky and clever and just… somehow… believable. I think every kid will dig this book. It also manages to be super relatable and about things that every kid can relate to, like making friends, new schools, family and fitting in.
The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley is an original quirky book that has bucket loads of appeal, character and heart – also the cover is bright and shiny and fabulous.
It will suit the older side of middle grade as is a little on the longer side and does have some mildly scary things.
Author & Illustrator: Amber Lee Dodd
Ages: 9-12 year olds (but I feel would suit older audiences too)