Fergal's parents often worry about him. He is a loner and a bit of an eccentric. They like to think he is clever, but sometimes even being clever is just plain weird.
A recent visit to the grocery store with his mother has Fergal excited about something new. While at the store, he discovered the wonders of the "bargain bin." It is where items with bumps and dents and nearly expired dates go to be rescued by some value-minded shopper. What Fergal finds in the bargain bin is a shiny can missing its label. The mystery of the unidentified can inspires Fergal to begin a collection. Fergal becomes obsessed with label-free cans. In no time at all his collection grows to over 40 cans. His parents think it is a bit strange but hopefully harmless.
When the collection takes over the bookshelf in Fergal's room, his mother insists that for each new can he finds he must open one of the old ones. She considers it a waste to just collect the things and not use the contents. This leads to Fergal's gruesome discovery.
One might think that Fergal is the only person to think of collecting unlabeled cans, but he bumps into a fellow can-collector at the store one day. Her name is Charlotte. She has also opened several of her cans and found something equally as gruesome as Fergal. Together they set out to solve the mystery.
CANNED offers misfit characters, humor, and just the right amount of "gross" stuff to satisfy typical middle grade and teen readers. Even though the story is set in England and uses British jargon, most readers will relate to Fergal and Charlotte as they quietly carry on their investigation under the noses of clueless adults. Alex Shearer's wacky adventure is well worth checking out.