Recently, however, John has been working under another name. As Charlie Carter he writes the Battle Boy books – a gripping action-packed history-based series for 8 to 12 year olds – fourteen books so far and more planned. These books were originally written for reluctant boy readers, but they have gone so much further, mainly because they have layers. They’re for anyone with a love of history, gadgets, science, time travel, action and adventure.
WHAT IS THE BATTLE BOY SERIES?
Eleven year-old Napoleon Augustus Smythe spends all the time he can in the local library. To his family he’s just a bookworm. What they don’t realise is that Napoleon has a secret life. He is a Battle Boy: code name, BB005. He goes to the library so that he can journey into the past, visiting real battles. His mission controller is Professor Perdu, disguised as the local librarian. She has captured energy bundles from a whole range of historic battles and stored them in titanium-iridium caskets called Battle Books.
At certain times these B-Books can be opened. When that happens, BB005 pulls on his Simulation Skin – skin-coloured body armour made from Kevlar and cloned spider webs — and leaps into the past, often into the thick of battles. His SimulSkin doubles as a data-collecting device. Covered in microchips and nanocomputers, it records and analyses, even collects warrior-DNA, and actually talks. "Skin" is the kind of buddy a Battle Boy needs.
Napoleon has many gadgets to call upon as well. His Battle Watch keeps him in constant contact with Professor Perdu. An LCD screen appears on his palms when he rubs them together. The HelpingHand glove contains a laser, taser, fingafone, and hologram software. He has a HoverVest and BootBoosters, a NukeBelt and MemRay stick, to mention just a few. He even has a Battle Edit Kit that can digitally manipulate battles. And he needs all this technology in the rapid-fire world of Battle Books, where one slip-up can spell disaster.
Napoleon journeys to all sorts of real battles. He helps Sir Francis Drake blow up the Spanish fleet, witnesses the Red Baron’s final flight, fights Ulysses in Troy, and joins the Viking Bloodaxe in his last battle. He gets caught up with the Aztecs and Conquistadors, finds himself in a WW2 tank battle at Kursk, and moves among great warriors like Alexander the Great, Hannibal of Carthage and Ramses II. He even goes right back to perhaps the first battle ever fought between humans, one between the Cro Magnons and the Neanderthals.
But there is much more to Napoleon’s exploits than just action. There are the friendships he forms with various historical characters, even though the professor insists on objectivity. There’s his family; they grow increasingly suspicious of him, and at one point his brother Monty even forces himself into a mission. Then there are the other agents; the bumbling Battle Boy 004 and the annoyingly efficient Battle Girl (BG001). Finally there’s Professor Perdu. Napoleon constantly wonders about her real agenda in all this. And each mission only adds more to his suspicion. In the end, however, it’s all happening so fast and furious that Napoleon Augustus Smythe barely has time to worry about anything other than surviving.
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