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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Factory Made Boy (The)
by Christine Nostlinger
Age Range: 9-11
Mrs Bartolotti is an eccentric, scatty woman who is prone to act improperly, dresses in a mismatch of bright clashing colours and has an addiction for purchasing mail-order goods. Her life is turned upside down when she receives a strange-looking large, heavy parcel that contains Conrad, a factory-made, seven-year-old boy who is perfect in every way.
Although a shock at first, as Mrs Bartolotti is not used to children, she becomes very fond of Conrad and sets out to be a good mother enrolling him at the local school and even finding him a ‘father’ figure too. But it is not long before they are faced with a new challenge when the factory realises Conrad has been delivered to the wrong address and demand him back. Conrad doesn’t want to go and together with Kitty, Conrad’s new friend from school, they hatch a cunning plan.
Winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1984, this novel by renowned Austrian author Christine Nöstlinger was written in 1975 and first published in English by Andersen Press in 1976 as Conrad the Factory-Made Boy. It is wonderful to see it back in print again with the original comic illustrations by Frantz Wittkamp.
Nöstlinger writes with a wonderful humorous style – Mrs Bartolotti is hilarious in her eccentricities; Conrad really is the most perfect little boy who is so well behaved and polite. The twist in the story towards the end allows for more humour as the plan to keep Conrad takes shape. Underlying this is a more serious message about the way in which society teaches both adults and children to behave.