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Timothy Other’s origins are a mystery. He has lived all his life at the orphanage where he was abandoned as an anonymous infant. The Dreams and Hopes Orphanage, run by the magnanimous Mr Penny, is a happy place, filled with love. But Timothy’s world crumbles when Mr Penny dies. The orphanage is repossessed by the bank, and comes under the draconian rule of the horrid Mr Sterner (with his ‘custard-crease smile’) and the scaly-skinned Ms ‘Fishy’ Finn.
Timothy escapes from the orphanage hidden in a basket on a removals lorry, which is then put aboard a cargo plane. The plane crashes, hurling Timothy into a strange land and a bizarre, surreal adventure.