Jack knows he is not like other kids. His parents treat him less like their offspring and more like a soldier in training. They move across the country on a regular basis, so that he has learnt not to develop close friendships. Everything changes, however, when he is kidnapped by intergalactic bounty hunters, who mistake him for super spy Gradius Clench (to whom, it must be said, he bears an uncanny resemblance). Daft sci-fi high jinks ensue. Wooding, a writer as adept with fantasy sagas as he is with children’s fiction, shows a keen understanding of the young person’s mind and gets the balance of silliness and pathos just right. He deserves credit, too, for slipping in paraphrased quotations from both Hamlet and the movie Aliens on the same page.