JK Rowling's 'Harry Potter' is an obvious example of children's fiction that adults enjoy, with Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy and Mark Haddon's 'The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time' also recent hits with the voting population. 

However, this cross-over appeal has been prevalent in the science fiction arena for years - and the new book from Irish author AJ Healy, which is aimed at the over elevens, falls into this category.

'Tommy Storm' is set in 2096 when everyone lives in floating buildings, due to climate change. Earth is sent an invitation from the Milky Fed - four solar systems in the Milky Way that had sustained intelligent life for millions of years - to send five children to represent Earth at a training school on a space-station on the far side of the Milky Way. 

At the end of the training a group of five cadets, of differing species, will be selected for a top-secret mission - which may or may not include the destruction of earth. 

This is because if the pending obliteration of the universe - or the Terrible Future Calamity - is to be avoided then one of the three planets that map the route of the new Sicko warpo speed runway have to be destroyed. 

Two of the nominated planets - Dust-2-Dust and Panthurpink have no inhabitants. However, because the Milky Fed's records from 2002 show that everyone is so miserable on Earth between commuting and working, and because they treat the planet so badly, they reason Earth's inhabitants can't be very fond of their planet.

The 12-year-old Tommy - who makes the secret mission shortlist - emerges a changed man from his training. He has been taught the secret of happiness and he now sees how Earthlings are getting it so wrong.

Fans of science fiction - both young and old - are sure to enjoy this wacky journey. Although it could have done with some tighter editing, overall it's a fun and absorbing read.

Mary McCarthy