Review of ‘Aquila’ by Andrew Norriss

If you watched British children’s TV in 1997-8, you might remember an excellent show called Aquila. The song and opening credits were awesome. It began with a Latin chant and then a dash through the solar system to a rock soundtrack. I remember this and the content of the show very well. However, I never encountered the book, which won the Whitbread Award. I thought it was about time I read it! Andrew Norriss also worked on other great TV shows, Woof!, Bernard’s Watch and The Brittas Empire.

Book cover shows two boys with crash helmets on.

On a school trip, two boys named Tom and Geoff discover an ancient spaceship, named Aquila. Instead of donating their find to a museum, they keep it a secret. They discover what it can do, with sometimes hair-raising results. Amusingly, only their neighbour, an elderly lady, has seen evidence of the spaceship, but thinks it’s a side-effect of her pills. The teachers become suspicious, because the boys are now taking an interest in mathematics, Latin, maps and flight, despite being at the bottom of the class. Geoff is dyslexic and does not want to learn to read, while Tom is simply not into learning, unless it’s very specific such as his collection of rocks. Discovering Aquila helps the boys to face their fears – Geoff’s fear of reading (the spaceship communicates in Latin and then English) and Tom’s fear of risk (learning to fly the ship). I would have liked more background on Aquila’s origins, as this is only briefly touched upon, but I suppose it might have got in the way of the simple story. It’s a fun book and I’m sure I’ll read it again.

Published by Puffin, 1997. The TV tie-in cover shows Craig Vye (L) as Geoff and Ben Brooks as Tom (R).

Leave a Reply