The Accidental Diary of B.U.G: Basically Famous by Jen Carney

The Blurb On The Back:

Five things that happen in this book that you DO NOT WANT TO MISS:

1. I appear on ACTUAL TV.

2. My teacher LITERALLY tells us to P.E.E. in class.

3. I locate dead people’s lost jewellery in exchange for luxury BISCUITS.

4. I discover where you can get FREE HOT CHOCOLATE.

5. I find out about a HUGE secret my mums have been keeping from me.

WARNING: Janey has been extra painy recently (one thing that might put you off). 

THE ACCIDENTAL DIARY OF B.U.G: BASICALLY FAMOUS was released in the United Kingdom on 19th August 2021.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order The Accidental Diary of B.U.G: Basically Famous by Jen Carney from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It is a couple of weeks after THE ACCIDENTAL DIARY OF B.U.G.

10-year-old Belinda Upton Green (the eponymous B.U.G. although she hates that nickname and goes by Billie) has another spellings jotter, which she’s actually using for her doodle diary.  There have been a number of interesting developments since her first diary.  Firstly, she now has a metal detector, which has dramatically improved her contributions to the Treasure Society as she has found a number of fascinating treasures, including the gold back of an earring and metal bottle caps.  Secondly, Janey is sort of a friend of hers now, even though she’s always doing gymnastics and still a real pain.

The metal detector comes in very handy when Billie and one of her mums meets the elderly Gracie Seagull while out taking the cat, Mr Paws, out for a walk and help her to find her keys.  Afterwards, a delighted Gracie has a bigger challenge for Billie – she believes that there’s actual buried treasure in her back garden and would be delighted if Billie and the Treasure Society helped her find it!  But the excitement doesn’t stop there.  Billie’s teacher, Mrs Patterson, has invited two people who work in actual television to come and speak to the class and they want to hold auditions for everyone to star in a new advert for school uniforms!  And as if that wasn’t enough, Billie is convinced that the fact that her mums are acting so weirdly means that they’re finally planning their special family-moon to Barbados!

The second in Jen Carney’s self-illustrated ACCIDENTAL DIARY series for readers aged 9+ is an enjoyable read with good inclusivity (notably its matter-of-fact attitude to adoption).  Billie’s obliviousness is quite endearing, the humour’s silly in a good way and I enjoyed the frenemy thing going on between her and Janey, but there was slightly too many poo jokes for me and the resolution to the Billie/Janey rivalry was a bit pat.

I hadn’t read the first book in this series but you really don’t need to as Billie provides a helpful breakdown of the key points to be aware of so that you can follow everything that happens. 

There are a number of different plot strands going on in the book, which I thought Carney handled really well as she keeps them all going in a well-paced way while bringing them together at different points so they overlap and influence each other.  Billie has a strong narrative voice – I enjoyed her self-confidence and her dismissive attitude to things like spelling and how she’s quite disdainful of some of the things she has to learn in class.  Carney in particular draws out the humour of some things learned in schools, such as Billie and her classmates’ reaction to being told they will learn how to P.E.E. (write a point, provide evidence and provide an explanation).  Carney’s illustrations work especially well to draw out the humour.  However, as someone who usually appreciates a good poo joke, I have to say that the concentration of them here was just a tad too much for me, especially the unexpected flicker pictures.

Carney’s got a very good matter-of-fact approach to inclusivity – whether it’s the way Billie talks about her two mums or Janey dealing with her mum and dad’s divorce and the fact that her dad now has a boyfriend.  This is one of the few MG books I’ve read where the main character is adopted and I enjoyed the way Billie talks about that, dispelling common myths and being quite strident in her views of social workers and bullies who try to use her adoption against her. 

The frenemy relationship between Billie and Janey works quite well, especially the way in which each is secretly quite envious of the other – especially when Janey is put front and centre of the advertising campaign that Billie was hoping would make her famous.  A scene where Billie discovers that she’s been disinvited by Janey from going to see her dad and boyfriend and her BFF Layla is going in her place is well handled and offers some added depth to more experienced/confident readers.  I did feel that the resolution to their relationship at the end of the book was a bit too pat and unearned in the circumstances though and could have done with a couple more pages of expansion in order to buy into it.

That said, it’s an entertaining read that children aged 9+ are bound to enjoy.  I would certainly read the first book in this series based on the strength of this book and I would also check out what Carney does next.  

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