Baddiel-iconThe Person Controller is a thrilling, funny and touching new adventure from David Baddiel, author of The Parent Agency. Here Nick Lake, Publishing Director of children’s fiction at Harper Collins, tells us why we should be so excited about this hilarious new voice in children’s storytelling.


As I write, David Baddiel has just crossed 100,000 sales through Bookscan in the UK of his debut novel The Parent Agency. And what a debut.

An epic wish fulfillment adventure with real heart, The Parent Agency was the story of Barry, a boy who enters a world where kids can choose their own parents… and finds that nothing is as simple as it seems. Filmic, gripping and funny, and beautifully packaged with Jim Field’s fantastic illustrations, it was the bestselling hardback 9-12 launch of 2014[1], continues to sell at an incredible rate, and has been loved by children, parents and critics alike.

Meanwhile, we have recently published David’s second novel, The Person Controller, in paperback. Amazingly, its weekly sales are a staggering 60% up on The Parent Agency, making David the fastest growing new star of 9-12 publishing.

And rightly so, because it is brilliant.

The Person Controller has all the same hallmarks as that phenomenal first novel: a terrifically simple, cinematic hook, a family in trouble, humour, heart, wit and excitement. It has the same big, bold imagination, the same instinct for comic timing, all combined in a page-turning adventure of two twins, rivalry, video games and – yes – wishes gone wrong. Jim Field is also back, and if anything his pictures are even more fantastic.[2]

“David Baddiel is a born storyteller, and this astonishingly confident and outrageously entertaining second novel is a must-read for children and adults alike.”

What’s different is that this time the stakes are even higher, the action set pieces are even bigger, the funny bits are even funnier and the moving bits are even… moving-er. And whereas in The Parent Agency, Barry goes through his bedroom wall into a magical universe run by kids, in The Person Controller the magic comes into Fred and Ellie’s lives in the form of their very special Controller. There are also, as in this article, footnotes. Only funnier ones.

David Baddiel is a born storyteller, and this astonishingly confident and outrageously entertaining second novel is a must-read for children and adults alike. As David says, “If you’ve ever played a video game and thought ‘yeah, it’s fun… but it’d be better if that was actually me, leaping through space, or building enormous towers in blocks out of the ground, or beating the entire Real Madrid team to score a goal’ – The Person Controller might be for you.

About the Book

Fred and Ellie are twins, and they’re both geeks, but they’re not identical. For one thing, Ellie is brilliant at computer games, and Fred is brilliant at… well, nothing, really. But then Fred and Ellie meet the Mystery Man, and become the new owners of the Controller.

Now, Fred and Ellie have the chance to turn the tables on the school bullies, and live out their wildest dreams. It’s their time to shine. Or is it? Because what you wish for is rarely what you really need…

“A real page turner… a compelling story with relatable characters and meaningful life lessons.” Huffington Post

[1] At time of writing, TCM across hardback and paperback is 109,000. For TCM at time of reading, take the number of weeks since May 10th 2016 and multiply by 2,000. Who says editors can’t do numbers?
[2] Watch out for an amazing double spread featuring an overhead kick in a football match.