The Ministry of Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things

By . Category: . ISBN: 9781910411544
5.00 out of 5
(2 customer reviews)


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A debut novel full of adventure, heroism and hilarity for boys and girls aged 10+

Winner of the Children’s Books Ireland Award for a First Book – the Éilis Dillon

Product Description

A novel full of adventure, hilarity, heroism and … pirates, The Ministry of SUITs tells the story of a secret Ministry hidden away in the far reaches of the Ulster Museum in Belfast. It deals with all the strange, unusual and impossible things in the world, the things we don’t want to have to think about or deal with as perfectly-normal-thank-you-very-much people: ancient monsters, wild animals, pirates, unicorns, aliens and much more.

Some people are born to work in the Ministry, and 12-year-old Jack is one of those people. Endlessly curious, perhaps to a level that might be called nosy, Jack finds himself and his frenemy Trudy as the Ministry’s newest recruits. And their first mission? To find out where all the school oddbods are disappearing to…

Author Paul Gamble says, ‘The book started its life when I noticed a single shoe lying in the middle of the road and wondered how someone could possibly lose only a single shoe. I began wondering if it could have been left by a pirate in a rush, and from there a story began taking shape. I wanted to create a world where everything strange, unusual and impossible had a logical explanation. I’ve always loved conspiracy theories, not because I believe them, but because I love the logical twists and turns that people take inside their heads to justify the craziest notions. But all the good conspiracy theories are for adults, so I figured that we ought to have some that kids could enjoy as well.

The only other reason that I wrote the book was in the hopes of becoming an incredibly rich and best selling author. I actually had a plan of how to do that, but my publisher has informed me that we aren’t allowed to call the book “Harry Potter and the Ministry of SUITs”. Something about copyright infringement, apparently…

As far back as I can remember the one thing I always wanted to do was to write a book. Now I’ve done that I’ve got to try and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life…’

Siobhán Parkinson of Little Island, publisher, says,‘This book is so funny that we simply had to publish it. If you are physically holding onto your sides while reading it — that’s usually a pretty good indication!’



‘A zany explosion of hilarity’ – Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series and former Laureate na nÓg

‘So far off the wall that the wall would need a passport to visit it. I wish I wrote this book’ – Mo O’Hara, author of My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series

‘The Ministry of SUITs is a cavalcade of utter nonsense (much like me). Unlike me, it manages to be clever and funny as well.’ – Dave Rudden, author of Knights of the Borrowed Dark

‘The Ministry of Suits is a wonderful place, and the extracts from their handbook will have young readers giggling helplessly and then insisting on reading great chunks of it out to their unwilling parents. Somehow Paul Gamble makes footnotes (lots and lots and lots of footnotes . . .) fun, and the whole story romps along at a cracking pace. It’s lively, with just the right balance of danger and comedy, and it’s chock-a-block with explanations so bizarre you just long for them to be true. Don’t miss it.’ – The Bookbag (read full review here)

‘Think Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, set in and around the Ulster Museum. Twelve-year-old Jack is curious, a quality that leads him to find the Ministry of SUITs and uncover a conspiracy that could (literally) shake the foundations of all Northern Ireland … it is very, very, very funny… Fans of the weird and the zany will devour this novel.’ – The Irish Times

‘The Ministry of SUITs is a rollercoaster ride of excitement and hilarity … The fantastical elements are balanced impeccably alongside observations of the mundane; and Gamble, who himself is a civil servant, does a wonderful job of portraying the Ministry’s inevitable struggles with the bureaucracy, statisticians, and paperwork that even secret ministries have to tackle … a joy to read’ – No More Workhorse (read full review here)

‘Smart, original and enormously entertaining … As a celebration of curiosity, a feast of footnotes and an invitation to imagine, this book is an absolute triumph – not to mention rib-achingly funny for all ages throughout’ – Teach Primary Magazine

‘This is a book for a specific kind of silliness-seeker, who delights in the surreal, the ‘what if?’ and the ‘but why?’ – and, in the right hands, it should satisfy completely.’ – Books for Keeps Magazine

‘Get ready for a rollercoaster of zaniness, adventure and hilarity! This debut novel by Paul Gamble skilfully juxtaposes the fantastical, thoughtful, comic and mundane. The relentlessly curious Jack, on a mission to find his missing friend, is recruited into the secret Ministry of Strange and Unusual and Impossible Things (Ministry of S.U.I.T.S) which deals with all the weird creatures and objects in the world. Enhanced by witty footnotes and explanatory subsections, this deliciously imaginative and immersive novel is a joy to read.’ – Judges for the Children’s Books Ireland Awards

Read Paul Gamble’s article in the Irish Times about writing The Ministry of SUITs here!

About Paul Gamble

Paul Gamble was born and brought up in Belfast. He currently works in the Department of Communities in the NI Civil Service. Over the years Paul has written and worked on a number of local and national television and radio shows, for broadcasters such as RTE and the BBC. He has also worked with a range of stand up comedians. This is his first novel.

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2 reviews for The Ministry of Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things

  1. Amy Cahill
    5 out of 5


    Such a funny and unique Book! I don’t think I’ll ever see a single shoe in the street again and not assume it belonged to a pirate. Very good novel – I hope many more are to come

  2. Laura
    5 out of 5


    Is such a great fun to read, so different and quirky, what an imagination treat!. Made me laugh so much and opened my mind to a couple of misteries ;-). Same here will smile in the knowing if ever I see in the street again a single shoe. …and to remember to never ever sleep with my head under the pillow!!:-)

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