Ctrl-Z by Andrew Norriss

Winner of the Stockport Book Award 2010

“As all computer geeks know, Ctrl-Z is one of the most useful keys on the board. It’s the key that ‘undoes’ whatever you last did. If you make a mistake, Ctrl-Z takes you back to before you made it. When Alex is given a laptop by Godfather John for his birthday, he finds it has a Ctrl-Z function that goes one better. It lets him ‘undo’ time. Half an hour, two hours, four – if he wants to, he can rewind his life to any point that day. Which is kind of handy for those occasions when things didn’t go too well first time round, and he’d like the chance to try again. ”
Andrew Norriss


Information, Resources & Reviews

Accelerated Reader ATOS Book Level: 5.4  Interest Level:  Middle Years, Ages 9 to 13
Quiz Questions with Answers
Activity sheets Crossword, Wordsearch, Guided Reading Notes
Guided Reading Notes (click to download & print)
Scholastic Book Club

Readers’ Theatre
Click here for an extract from Ctrl-Z ready to print and act out. Different colours for each part. Read, interpret, act out and listen to and watch the perfomances. Record on audio or video for extra value. Great fun and KS2 Literacy at the same time. What more could you ask for!

Ctrl-Z: The Movie made by children at The Hills Lower School is shortlisted for Kids for Kids Film Festival 2012

PSHE: Ctrl-Z has been used PSHE planning for circle-time discussions throughout the school on making mistakes. For older children the sessions will be directly linked to the book. Kids can find it so hard to accept their own mistakes. A humourous look at someone else’s mistakes might just give a little needed perspective.

Ctrl-Z Discussion Ideas.

Read An Extract
Click on the links to read, download and print.

Chapter 1 pages 1 – 6
Recommended extracts to read aloud



This is a fun and lively story about a boy who can rewind a little time if things go pear-shaped, the mishaps he prevents and the possible perils of his new-found skill.

Alex is given a laptop which provides him with the means to go back to a point in time before the trouble began, while remembering what happened. He is able therefore to avert disasters, which he does admirably. Although basically a good boy he is also able to do naughty things he’d never normally dare to do without fear of retribution and safe in the knowledge that he can go back in time and undo any harm, that he won’t repeat the bad behaviour a second time around, and that noone else will have any memory of the bad behaviour because it was rewound. What a great idea!
“Ctrl-Z” is a fun, light hearted read that will appeal to all children from about 6+, with a great tales of an accident-prone best friend Callum, exploding fireworks, and a foot-stuck-down toilet incident. However this isn’t purely a comical book. There’s also a bit of a knot in your stomach with suspense as you read in case the Cntrl-z mechanism doesn’t work this time (and once or twice it nearly does go wrong).
There are also real nuggets of wisdom within the story. For example, Alex’s parents tend to argue and Alex sees how this parental tension can be diverted simply through better communication, and he learns too how bad you feel when you see the genuine hurt and bewilderment caused by a brilliant prank (spraying the class swot with a fire extinguisher) which seemed so funny at the outset. In addition the underlying theme of the book is that making mistakes is not a bad thing to do and nor should you feel ashamed – mistakes are often unavoidable, it’s how we all learn, and you shouldn’t give up because of a mistake. Great lessons for life. Great book.  ELH Browning

Ctrl-Z by Andrew Norriss

Chapter 1

It was a Saturday morning, and Alex was sitting at the desk in his bedroom, when his father called up to say there was a parcel for him. A parcel sounded interesting, Alex thought, and he hurried downstairs to the kitchen, where his father was studying the label on a box about the size of a small suitcase.

‘It’s from Godfather John,’ he said, as Alex appeared. ‘I suppose it’s a birthday present.’

Alex’s birthday was not for another three months, but presents from Godfather John could arrive at any time in the year, and when they did they were usually… unusual.

Last year’s present, for instance, had been a Make Your Own Explosions Kit, which Alex still wasn’t allowed to play with, and the year before that his godfather had sent a pair of ferrets, with detailed instructions on how to use them to catch rabbits.

‘Perhaps we should open it outside,’ said Mr Howard, doubtfully, remembering the ferrets, but Alex was already tearing off the brown paper and pulling open the lid of the box.

Inside was a battered black case, containing a laptop computer.

‘Goodness,’ said his father. ‘How very generous.’ He peered into the empty box. ‘Is there a card with it? Or a letter?’

Alex was rather disappointed. A laptop computer might sound like an exciting present to get, but this was not, he could see, a new machine. It was old, with spots on it that looked like bits of somebody’s lunch. It probably wouldn’t be able to do half the things that Alex could do on the computer his parents had given him for Christmas. As presents went, an old laptop was a lot less exciting than a Make Your Own Explosions Kit or a pair of ferrets.

‘Are you going to try it out?’ asked his father.

‘He’s not trying out anything till he’s done the drying up.’ Alex’s mother had appeared in the kitchen, wiping oil and grease off her hands onto a piece of kitchen towel. ‘Could someone put the kettle on?’

Ten minutes later, when Alex had finished the drying up, he took his computer upstairs to his room. It might only be an old laptop but you never knew. There might be some interesting games on it.

Sitting at his desk, he turned on the machine and a window appeared asking him to type in his name and address, and then to fill in the date and the time. The date was the 14th of May and the clock on his desk said the time was twenty three minutes past ten, so he tapped in the numbers 10.23.

At least, that was what he meant to do.

In fact he typed in the numbers 10.03.

That wasn’t really a problem though. Alex knew that, when you made a mistake on a computer, there was a very simple solution. If you pressed the Control key and then pressed Z, the computer went back to before you had made the mistake.

So that was what he did now.

He pressed Ctrl-Z.

And the computer disappeared.

It took a moment for this to sink in. After all, things don’t just ‘disappear’ – especially not computers that you’ve only had for ten minutes and hardly touched. Alex looked round the room, and under the desk – he even looked out of the window, but there was no mistake. The laptop had vanished and there wasn’t a sign of it anywhere.

He was still sitting at his desk, wondering what he should do, when his father called up from downstairs to say there was a parcel for him.

If you want to read more, you’ll have to buy the book!

Book Awards
Winner,  Mad About Books Stockport Schools’ Book Award 2010
Winner, Lancashire Fantastic Book Award 2010

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (5 Mar 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0141324295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141324296
  • Also available in Turkish: Kontrol-Z


One Response to “Ctrl-Z”

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