Tag Archives: Australian humour

Harry Kruize, Born to Lose – Paul Collins

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Ford St Publishing

March 2017

ISBN 9781925272628

RRP $17.95

No doubt about it, Paul’s on a winner with this one!

Harry Kruize is an average sort of boy but has an over-abundance of woes and worries. In fact, his self-esteem could hardly be any lower nor his anxiety any less.

It’s not that he minds helping his mum out with the boarding house. After all, since his Dad went away it’s just been the two of them but so many other things are just wrong. Having to see Fitzy the school psychologist (to eliminate any residue issues over his dad’s defection), being constantly ridiculed by the gaggle of nasty girls known collectively as the Bees, having no friends at all, living in mortal dread of the biggest bully in the school, the BRICK, his mum acting all weirdo and secretive are all major problems in Harry’s teenage life. Worst of all, he so desperately wants a dog. More than anything, a dog would make him so much happier.

When Harry’s favourite teacher Mr Granger sets a whole term assignment to illustrate the power of words, Harry is unconvinced. Still he does write down his wishes and he keeps his HH (Harry Hobbit) diary to verbalise his thoughts.

Along comes a character Harry would never have dreamed existed. An old guy named Jack who looks like he stepped straight out of a painting of a bush swagman turns up and needs a place to stay – just for a bit – because he’s really the type who roams about. Suddenly Harry finds himself with a friend and more importantly a friend who knows and understands dogs. Harry’s engagement with Jack and his yarns about fantastic dogs he’s known become the highlight in his existence.

I have to tell you Paul I recognised that it was Henry from the get-go – I am my father’s daughter after all.  I just love this juxtaposition of a 21st century teenage boy’s angst and Henry Lawson’s bush philosophy.

As Harry hears more and more of Jack’s stories things begin to shift in his life. The snarled up threads of his normal days seem to untangle and begin to run more smoothly. By the time, Jack disappears ‘on the wallaby track’ again, Harry has solved the mystery of his Mum’s strangeness – and is about to have a new stepfather, gained the trust and growing friendship of the Brick, finished his sessions with Fitzy, faced down the Bees and most importantly of all has a champion dog of his own.

Henry Lawson was a man who saw the best in our collective Australian personality – the courage, the resilience, the laconic humour, the loyalty and more. He imbued his bush yarns with these qualities and I believe they still exist, exemplified in instances such as hundreds of ordinary people turning up with mops and buckets to help with floods  or those battling bushfires or putting our hands up to give a hand up to anyone who needs it and much more.  His spirit and his faith in his fellow Australians lingers, as it does for Harry, inspiring those same qualities so that we can all recognise in ourselves our best.

I would highly recommend this for your readers from around Year 6 and up – I foresee it being a novel that teachers would love to see as a class reading. Enjoyable and humorous it’s appeal will be for both boys and girls.

 

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PS

Before my aunt and cousin moved a few years ago from their place outside Mudgee – one of my great joys in visiting was knowing I was in the heart of Lawson country. Driving past the Budgee Budgee Inn where Henry wrote The Loaded Dog, visiting the site of his childhood home and Gulgong and generally soaking up his lingering presence were all fodder for my imagination.

Henry Lawson (17 June 1867 – 2 September 1922) was an Australian writer and poet. Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson, Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period, and is often called Australia’s “greatest writer”.

Although Henry was born at the Grenfell goldfields, he was raised, from the age of six months to 15 years, in a cottage 8 km north of Mudgee at Eurunderee (then known as ‘Pipeclay’), which was established after a gold find in 1863. He briefly attended the local Catholic school.

http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/people/arts/display/22377-henry-lawson

 

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Deadly D & Justice Jones: #3 The Search – Dave Hartley & Scott Prince

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Magabala Books

  • Published:Oct 2015
  • Pages:192pp
  • ISBN:9781925360011
  • Ages:Middle primary, Upper primary
  • Format:Paperback

RRP $12.95

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The legion of fans that were captured by the first two Deadly D books will lap this one up as well!

And who wouldn’t be delighted to picture legendary coach Wayne Bennett caught up in a circus act?

In this new adventure Dylan and his best bro Justice are being stalked by some very scary clowns – scarier than most of their kind because really they are working for a very nasty villain known as the Ringmaster.  BIGTOP circuses are definitely not what they seem – Biological Investigation Group to Organise Prototypes is a despicable organisation kidnapping people with special abilities to steal their DNA and create clones. No wonder they are after Dylan AKA Deadly D!

To add to this Dylan’s mum finds some incriminating evidence about his regular Deadly D transformations and he confesses to his role playing for the Broncos. Without hesitation Dylan is packed off to his Nana’s back in Mt Isa for a bit of good old-fashioned ‘sorting out’.

But everything and everyone seems to be going into a meltdown when their hero Deadly D disappears and Supercoach Bennett enlists Justice to help him find the missing star. When they take off on their search they are not expecting to be kidnapped by BIGTOP stooges and used as bait to lure Dylan into their evil clutches.  With the usual high inks, near catastrophes, footy humour and general gentle mocking of Broncos legends, the adventure rockets along to a more than satisfactory conclusion.

This series has so much going for it – especially for those ‘hard to get at’ boys in your readership. Footy, positive Indigenous role models, terrific humour, ridiculous situations and triumphs of good vs bad – Hartley and Prince are really hitting the mark and let’s hope the series continue in the same engaging style.

Highly recommended for your lovers of footy especially – aged around 9 years upwards.

Check out the authors’ December 2015 tour here.

My Life and Other Massive Mistakes – Tristan Bancks: illustrated by Gus Gordon

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ISBN: 9780857985293

Published: 02/03/2015

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

RRP : $15.99

 

Oh dear Tristan, you’ve done it again. So there I am sitting in the hair salon, goop on my hair waiting patiently to be transformed and reading this. Cue falling about laughing – out loud! Strange looks from both the girls and the other clients. I think I actually snorted twice. SO embarrassment!

 

Tom Weekly is at it again – sabotaging school testing (do I suspect the dreaded NAPALM tests?) with a cunning plan of planting nits in every student’s (and teacher’s) hats to create an epidemic and total school closure, springing his Pop from the nursing home, suffering under duress from the heinous older sister and helping his mate Jack to get back his ‘cranky’ Dad  amongst other crazy stunts – plus much more!

 

These books have proved so very popular with readers – particularly those reluctant boys who can be daunted by dense texts – and with good reason. Each episode is succinct and deceptively simple accompanied by Gus’ illustrations.

 

I adore the way Tristan engages with is readership by including invitations to submit ideas for various schemes and lists contained in the text. In addition, he provides young aspiring writers with some useful (and extremely humorous) advice at the end of the book to encourage their own experimental writing.

 

Tristan has such an enviable knack of connecting with both his readership and his audiences – and incidentally, is also just a lovely human!

 

His books are ones of which every library should have multiple copies. Boys and girls alike will relish each hysterical mishap from poor Tom’s life.

 

Get onto Tristan’s website here – you won’t be sorry you did!

 

Highly recommended for your readers aged around 9 and up.

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The Vanilla Slice Kid – Adam Wallace & Jack Wodhams. Illustrated by Tom Gittus

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Ford St Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-925272-02-4
Publication date: 1 October 2015
Extent: 144 pages
Price: AUD$14.95

Well it’s clear we have our own contender to usurp Roald Dahl in the list of favourites for readers who love wacky and fantastical stories!

When Archie Cunningham is born, it is apparent to his parents – a disgustingly greedy and vile pair of individuals – that their unwelcome baby had a very surprising superpower. Perhaps it had something to do with the revolting Mrs Cunningham stuffing down every form of cake she could lay her fat hands on during her pregnancy but perhaps it is just one of the enduring mysteries of the world. Whichever it is, immediately after his arrival young Archie produces tiny chocolate cupcakes from the palms of his hands! So despite the fact that his parents have not the slightest interest in their baby or a child at all, they are avariciously interested in his potential as a provider of the world’s most delicious pastries.

Fast forward five years which have been lonely and isolated ones for Archie and his talent re-emerges after extreme provocation from his parents. They continue to ignore him as a child and look on him solely as a secret money making machine, providing the best edible delicacies on the market.  But when finally Archie is allowed to go to school, his bizarre talent is revealed and all hell breaks loose.

Secret agents, a megalomaniacal General, children collected for their unusual and special talents, Archie’s life does not seem destined to get much better. Except for one thing – Archie finds some real friends and though the odds look bad for them all, they prove that together they are stronger than any crazy bullies.

This is a read which fairly gallops along at an amazing pace. And while the reader feels most sorry for Archie there is no doubt that there are many real belly laughs throughout as the ridiculous situations and grotesque caricatures continue.

Definitely a winner for either boys or girls from around 8 years up, this is one to add to your shelves for sure!

Watch This Space: #1 Out to Launch – Colin Thompson

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Random House Australia

ISBN: 9781742756202

Published: 01/05/2015

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

Extent: 256 pages

RRP: $15.99

Last year when I had the good fortune of a blog Q&A with Colin Thompson, following the publication of the final book about The Floods, he told us about his forthcoming series called Watch This Space and after watching patiently, it’s arrived!

Out To Launch is the first in this new series which will foreseeably be every bit as popular as Colin’s previous bestsellers. With his very recognisable acerbic wit and uncanny ability to pinpoint the most laughable and ridiculous aspects of popular culture, Colin’s newest comic offering puts the spotlight on reality TV shows with superb results.

Billionaire entrepreneur Radius Limpfast is the most successful creator of reality tv shows in history but is never content to rest, always seeking more spectacular attention on his programs. “Then one night, after a particularly creative bacon curry, Radius dreams up the ultimate reality show.”

He intends to send an ordinary family to the moon to live in a huge glass dome where they will be watched by the entire world.  Sounds incredible doesn’t it? Amazing even!! What a concept it is for the ultimate in reality television and all planned to the last detail. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Except for choosing a family that is not really the ‘ideal’ for the project (The Contrasts: Stark, Laura, Primrose, Jack and Crumley the dog) with the throw in of a ‘fake’ granny, Apricot. And except for cutting corners on costs for essentials like a reliable rocket transport and a suitably protective glass dome dwelling. And except for underestimating the skills of 14 year old girls and elderly ladies. And more!

Boys and girls from around 10 up, plus those of us who relish Colin’s very particular sense of humour will be very excited about this new series. The second in the series In the Pink is already in the works and who knows how many more to come?

Highly recommended for readers from Middle Primary to Lower Secondary.

An assorted swag of audio books recently enjoyed…

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Cricket Kings – William McInnes                                

Hachette Australia 2007

How could I resist this novel from our own local Redcliffe boy, William (brag note: with whom I have had the pleasure of conversation on more than one occasion!) – especially when narrated by Himself.

After delighting readers with his uproarious first book of memoirs A Man’s Got to have a Hobby, William published this novel to similar great acclaim. His writing career continues to attract a loyal and enthusiastic fan base.

The Yarraville Fourths are a suburban cricket team comprised of mostly middle-aged men of dubious skills, none of whom would ever have been considered as a contender to wear the baggy green.

However, there is much more than just neighbourhood cricket going on in this hugely funny book. Chris Andersen is really the Everyman figure and his team of assorted characters range from Brian, the intellectually impaired young man to Livey, the constantly farting local butcher – and each one has his own story to bring to the Cec Bull Oval.

Connecting past and present, the local oval is like a hub in the wheel of life in this typical suburban locality. Although, on the one level a very humorous book about an often dysfunctional team, McInnes takes the reader on a journey of exploring much deeper themes and concepts mostly through the eyes of the gentle and kind hero, Chris.

 

Fat, Fifty & F***ed! : a fast and furious novel – Geoffrey McGeachin

Penguin Australia 2004

Definitely was gravitating towards humour in the last few audio selections and this was a superb choice – the kind that had me sitting in the car at my various destinations just to listen to a little more, and no doubt, passing motorists thinking I am somewhat challenged, driving along laughing aloud for no apparent reason.

Martin Carter is having a serious mid-life crisis day. The manager of a small town bank, married to a cheating bitchy wife with two decidedly unlikeable stepchildren, Martin turns fifty and not a single person remembers his birthday. As it happens, he is also losing his job as his little local bank exists primarily to handle the wages of the local meatworks, now being closed down. Faced with an overwhelming sense of depression and failure, Martin makes a snap decision that shakes him out of his torpor with a vengeance – he robs his own bank.

With $1 000 000 stowed in garbage bags and no real plan, Martin takes off on an extraordinary, and hilarious, road trip – meeting the enigmatic and delightful Faith (a librarian, no less!), becoming embroiled with bikies both dead and alive, getting caught up in a spy scandal of deadly proportions, meeting a millionaire mogul and more – to find his way to an old schoolmate’s place in Far North Qld – and that’s when the action really begins!

Jolly Wicked Actually: the Hundred Words that Make us English – Tony Thorne

Quite interesting and gently humorous, though not riveting, Thorne explores 100 slang terms that define the Englishness of the English.

I particularly liked this excerpt:

Barking

Sometimes intensified by the addition of ‘utterly’, ‘totally’, ‘completely’ or ‘absolutely’, barking means abjectly, visibly and audibly – and the implication is hopelessly, on a long-term basis – deranged: possessed of an aggressive rather than a passive craziness. Among hundreds of examples of barkingness gleefully printed by the tabloids since the 1980s have been King George III, a £32, 000 lottery grant to teach the homeless to growl (“Phil Minton …uses the cash to create so-called ‘feral choirs’ of tramps keen to ‘find their inner voices’”) and a bride whose wedding train was carried by pug dogs instead of bridesmaids.

 

The Camel Book Mobile – Masha Hamilton

In my last couple of schools I had purchased a very attractive and informative picture book called My Librarian is a Camel by Margriet Ruurs – a photo essay of unusual mobile libraries around the world and thus was immediately drawn by the title of this novel.

This novel looks at such a library service in Kenya, staffed by a rather grumpy local librarian and Fiona (Fee) Sweeney who has taken leave from her New York library to bring literature, culture and enlightenment to remote communities.   Although her intentions are completely well intended and her passion genuine, Fee is unprepared for the difficulties that this project brings, especially to one little nomadic settlement called Mididima. Conflicting views on the presence of the book mobile along with a clash of traditional and more modern values, complex relationships all contrive to create a situation of great tension within the community.

The ending is quite haunting and I was left feeling a little depressed I think but it was certainly a compelling and well told story. My only complaint was that I did not care for the choice of narrator.