How I Saved The World in a Week

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Billy’s mum doesn’t really think school matters that much. She thinks there are much more important things for Billy to learn from her battered old copy of How to Survive: like how to build a shelter into woods, how to tell the time using the sun, and how to start a fire in the wilderness. Billy’s spending less and less time at school lately, but although he’s sad to be missing out on making friends and learning, he just wants his mum to be happy.

After a scary incident sees Billy’s mum having to go and stay in a hospital, Billy is sent to live with his dad – who he’s not seen for years, and who writes off everything Billy’s mum taught him as complete rubbish.

But then the news starts sharing story after story of people falling victim to a deadly virus. One which turns them into terrifying, bloodthirsty monsters. It seems that Billy’s mum was preparing him for something after all… and Billy must use every survival skill he’s learned from her if he’s going to protect his new friends.

This deeply unusual and moving story for middle-grade readers is part gripping zombie-thriller, part family drama. There are touches of Jacqueline Wilson’s The Illustrated Mum and Wai Chim’s The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling in the way it sensitively touches on themes of a child’s experience of their parents’ mental health, as well as edge-of-your-seat excitement as Billy and his friends try to flee the terrifying, seemingly unstoppable Greys. The core of the book, however, is Billy trying to find his place in the world as he struggles to be believed, being pulled in all directions and finding the courage to trust people – even when one of his mum’s top rules for survival is ‘trust no-one’ – with a powerful message that no matter who we are, we are always stronger together.

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