Chester Parsons is Not a Gorilla by Martyn Ford.
One of our Staff Favourites of 2019, as chosen by Margaret and Mark.
Trying to imagine what it's like in someone else's head is a good thing to do, but it can be, well... a headache. Unless you're Chester Parsons, who discovers he has the ability to 'mind jump' into the heads of people and animals. Fortunately, his Youtuber sister and a TV production company are on hand to make him a star. Unfortunately, Chester's body goes missing during a mind leap into a gorilla. Who's got it in for Chester, and why would they steal his body? So begins a roller coaster ride adventure with secret societies, car chases, sword fights and a very angry gorilla.
This is obviously a very funny book, but I applaud Martyn Ford for his creativity and thoughtfulness just as much as for his humour. Exploring the possibility of mind leaping into other people and animals puts you in plenty of interesting places. There was a moment (spoiler alert, and I always avoid spoilers but this was really good) when Chester mind jumps into a rat and finds it already occupied by another mind jumper. Freaky. There's some existential stuff happening here, but with a lightness of touch that keeps it more Walliams than Wittgenstein and possibly more enjoyable than either.
I feel we should set this book for one of our future Inside Story bookclubs and ask children who or what they would like to mind jump into. As Chester Parsons discovers, the possibilities are endless.