Recognise the rocket on the front cover of Noah’s Rocket by Tony Frais? No? Well, here’s a big clue. Next time you are walking through the City of London or watching the latest news about bankers’ bonuses, take a good look at the buildings on the London skyline and you might just spot it. To locate its exact location, you need to read the book.
Noah’s Rocket by Tony Frais is a modern take on the biblical story of Noah and the flood. Swap Mount Ararat in Turkey (supposedly the resting place for the Ark) for the City of London and you have the beginnings of a very funny and highly engaging version of this most famous story from the book of Genesis.
Noah is minding his own business pottering in the garden of his small house in a street just like any other street in London. His three grown-up sons have long since left home and he lives quietly with his wife Ethel. Life is good. Suddenly, he hears a loud whooshing noise and a voice talking to him.
“Hello Noah…. This is God speaking to you. The world has become a very bad place with too many wicked people. I am going to destroy them by causing a flood…. Your garden is too small to build a very large ark or a very large submarine. You only have enough space to build something very tall instead! Noah, I want you to build a giant space rocket… Take your wife, your three sons and their wives and put them into the rocket. Also, you will collect two of every living creature, male and female, and put them, with enough food for everyone, into the rocket.”
What follows (probably after a long lie down in a darkened room) is a very funny story of how Noah rises to the challenge God has set him. After all, how difficult is it to build a rocket rising over 150 metres in a small garden in a London suburb? But Noah doesn’t bargain for the neighbours who start to get very cross because the rocket is making their television pictures go all wobbly. Then there is the local policeman called by the said angry neighbours who, when hearing Noah’s story, has heard enough. And where exactly do you get two of every living creature, male and female, in the middle of London? The problems don’t go away once you get airborne either. How do you keep all those animals entertained up there in deep space? And, of course, there’s the small problem of zero gravity and all that animal pooh!
Will Noah complete the mission asked of him? And who are all the men in bright, white suits who keep coming to Noah’s aid just as things are looking really bad? You are just going to have to read the book to find out!
The Times Educational Supplement have described Noah’s Rocket as a “sparky, highly readable reworking of the Noah and the flood story” and I would entirely agree. It is laugh-out-loud funny and very original.
Noah and Stanley the Spider (the hero of the story) have their very own website. Schools can order special school packs which includes a copy of the book, a play of the story, an assembly play and curriculum planning resources.