illustrated by Stephen Lewis
(Suggested reading age 7-8 years old)
OXFORD LEVEL 12
BOOK BAND: GREY
Doohickey gets a job as the professor’s assistant. But all he’s allowed to do is clean the house. So, when the professor goes out, Doohickey decides to put his newest invention to good use. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
The idea for this book came to me while I was typing another story. I intended to type ‘mow the lawn and Hoover the carpet’, but I got it mixed up and typed ‘mow the carpet’ by mistake. I thought about how funny it would be if other jobs got mixed up and how that might happen.
It wasn’t until after I had finished the story that I realised how similar it was to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Goethe. This is an old poem about a wizard’s assistant who uses magic to do the housework for him. Many people know the story from its retelling in the Disney film Fantasia, in which Mickey Mouse takes the role of the apprentice.
I originally wrote the story as a picture book, but my agent thought that there was too much happening in it. She suggested that I rewrite it as a chapter book. This meant I needed to write twice as many words. I thought that a good way to do this was to introduce another character – someone that Doohickey could talk to when the professor had gone out. This is where Newton, my favourite character, came in. He doesn’t actually do anything in the story. He just stands around making unhelpful comments and pretending to be cleverer than he really is. I think most of us know someone that behaves like that!