Reviews for Canned
Booklist Reviews 2008 February #2
Fergal Bamfield collects cans, which seems to be a rather dull hobby until he finds a finger in one of them. After he meets Charlotte (another can collector who has found an ear in one of hers), the pastime becomes more interesting. Another can reveals a plea for help, and the kids' investigations eventually lead to Fergal's stint as a laborer in a pet-food factory. Despite the somewhat grisly plot elements, the overall tone here is light. The team of Fergal and Charlotte comes off as a nerdy, adolescent version of Nick and Nora Charles. Readers won't be distracted by the British references (mushy peas make an appearance), though they may be disappointed in the account of Fergal's rescue, which lacks suspense and is a little too easily accomplished. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Fall
Funny, gruesome, and unpredictable, this novel details the crime-fighting partnership between Fergal and Charlotte, who collect unlabeled cans. The friends decide to open a few specimens, revealing alarming mysteries. Shearer builds suspense carefully, and the resolution falls well outside the paradigm of predictability. Recalling Roald Dahl, Shearer teeters on the brink between black humor and tastelessness, improbability and impossibility. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #4
Funny, gruesome, and unpredictable, this novel details the unexpected development of a crime-fighting partnership between Fergal and Charlotte, who share an eccentric obsession with collecting unlabeled cans. When the two meet over the bargain bin in a British grocery store, their mothers take misguided comfort in the discovery that someone else's child shows such "originality" as well. The new and still tentative friends decide to open a few of their favorite specimens, revealing alarming mysteries. Shearer builds the suspense in these scenes carefully, and while the resolution of the tale is not as gripping as the opening, it falls well outside the paradigm of predictability. Following the unorthodox clues from their cans, the two awkward detectives discover a factory manned by enslaved child laborers. The protagonists' belief that neither parents nor police will investigate such wild claims is entirely and humorously convincing, and their attempts to rescue the children unaided run into problems. Recalling Roald Dahl's fiction, Shearer's novel teeters on the precipice between black humor and tastelessness, as well as between improbability and impossibility. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 January #1
This macabre mystery may make readers give up canned foods. Fergal Banfield, an eccentric English lad with the peculiar hobby of collecting unlabelled cans from supermarket bargain bins, discovers a gold ear stud in his latest acquisition. The mystery deepens when he next discovers a severed human finger in another can. Fergal meets Charlotte, a fellow can-collector, who finds a human ear in one of her cans, and it goes with the gold stud. Fergal's investigation leads him to a pet-food factory owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dimble-Smith. Fergal makes the grisly discovery that the factory is staffed by enslaved young children from Africa and Asia, who become ingredients of the pet food when they grow old enough to resist captivity. Pressed into service and fearing for his life, Fergal gets a message to Charlotte on a can label about his situation and location, but no one believes her story. So it's Charlotte to the rescue! The grotesque elements of the story are more suggestive than descriptive, and Shearer's delightfully droll, dark humor makes for many light moments. Readers with a taste for the bizarre and gross will find this tale most tasty. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2008 February
British children's author, Alex Shearer, has created a mystery novel filled with humor and suspense. Fergal Bamfield is not a collector of the normal items that most youngsters would be interested in collecting. Fergal is a collector of tin cans from the bargain bins at various supermarkets-those with no labels so one is continually trying to guess what the can might contain. It is only when he opens one of his cans does he discover an earring stud, and then later he discovers a human finger in another of his collection cans. It isn't until he meets Charlotte, a fellow can collector, that he shares his collection. Charlotte has "treasures" to share too-a ring and a human ear. Where do these strange items come from? A final note concealed in a can asking for help, draws the two into a journey to a dog food factory run by sinister owners. Readers will definitely enjoy reading this novel as each chapter ends leaving the reader wanting to learn more. There is some English terminology that might confuse some young readers, but the terms are easily understood if taken in context of the story. Recommended. Jo Drudge, Educational Reviewer, Rome City, Indiana © 2008 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 February
Gr 4-7-- A hilariously gruesome comedy thriller set in England. Fergal Bamfield's an oddball kid who collects cans without labels from the reduced-price bins of supermarkets and spends a lot of time puzzling over their contents. Compelled to open a particularly lightweight can with an interesting rattle, Fergal finds a gold earring stud. In another, he finds a human finger. When he meets fellow collector Charlotte, he learns that she has opened a tin that contained a human ear and another with a ring--that perfectly fits the finger he found. When they find a slip of paper with "help" on it, they are sure someone needs rescuing. While Charlotte is on vacation, Fergal figures out the factory location from numbers on the can; is caught trespassing there; and becomes enslaved, along with other kids, filling and sealing cans of pet food all day. With a sixth sense that Charlotte will find it, he writes a note about his imprisonment and slips it into an empty tin. Will she find him? Shearer taps into the repulsive yet seductive appeal of urban legends. The pair, with all their eccentricities, will be reassuring characters to children who feel different. Quirky and original, funky and totally gross, this fast-paced novel blends several genres: crime, horror, mystery, and fantasy. Its black humor, balanced by a serious look at forced child labor, will keep readers hooked from the beginning.--Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME [Page 128]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2008 August
Fergal Banfield collects cans. Not the every day can, mind you, but the ones found in the supermarket's bargain basket of cans whose labels have fallen off. His parents, not sure what to make of this obsession, believe it is because he is "clever." His peers would most likely describe him as weird. As Fergal's collection grows larger, his parents give him an ultimatum, telling him that he must open one of the cans he has before buying any more. Fergal agrees, but when he finds a pierced earring in the can, he is spurred on to purchase another. The content of this second can is downright creepy, a human finger. When next at the market, Fergal meets Charlotte, who shares his fascination for cans. They quickly become friends and decide to meet and discuss the contents of their cans. Charlotte has had the same experience as Fergal, with the contents of her cans revealing different body parts as well as more jewelry. And so, the mystery of the cans begins. Whose body parts are in these cans and where are they coming from The author writes a novel whose characters might be simple and a bit underdeveloped and whose premise is quite gruesome, but the plot is entertaining, enough to compel this reviewer to read on to its conclusion. Middle school boys and girls would enjoy this likeable pair of detectives and probably look forward to another adventure in the future.-Janet Scherer 3Q 3P M Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.