Tim Harris, illus by James Hart
Released September 2017
Tim Harris exploded onto the children’s literature scene quite literally with his Exploding Endings books. Now he brings us a true hero of the classroom, Mr Bambuckle. The children of Room 12 B are wary of their expected new teacher, given their previous one was a po-faced relic who stood no nonsense. Their astonishment when they enter the classroom to find Mr Bambuckle balancing on the teacher’s desk on a unicycle is off the radar. And that’s just the start!
What other teacher do you know can produce soup from their pockets or cook bacon in the classroom? Indeed, is there one you can think of who provides Himalayan tea to anyone in need?
Or even more importantly, a teacher who realises their kids’ insecurities such as killer washing machines and builds a scaffold to overcome these?
Of course, not everyone appreciates Mr Bambuckle’s unique talents e.g. Principal Sternblast (thank goodness, I’ve only known one of those!) but the kids in 12B know that nothing will ever be the same and that Mr Bambuckle must stay despite all obstacles being presented!
This is a tremendously fun read and is chockfull of memorable characters aside from Mr B. Readers from around 8 years upwards will fall in love with this teacher and want to be in his class forever!
Check out a teaser here.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – Q&A with Mr Bambuckle himself! – oh and Tim Harris. Ta dah!!!!
Q&A with Mr Bambuckle and Tim Harris
How excited am I to welcome to Just So Stories Mr Bambuckle himself! And of course, Tim Harris.
Mr Bambuckle, I am SO excited to have the opportunity to speak with you – I feel a little flustered really! – but let’s get started.
Q1: Mr Bambuckle, I’d love for you to give my readers a little insight into the young you – the baby, the kid, what sort of student were you, hobbies, family – well you get the picture! We want to hear about the making of Mr Bambuckle!
Did you know that Himalayan tea is a most wonderful calmer if you’re feeling flustered? Dear Sue, please take this cup and let me know what you think. I brewed it myself.
Ah, yes, my parents … Well, it’s difficult to know where to start with such remarkable people. Put it this way – I learned to abseil before I could walk. I learned to use chopsticks before I could hold a fork. I learned how to scuba dive before I could say the word ‘fish’. My childhood was saturated with rich learning experiences and, being mostly home-schooled, I was able to enjoy it with those I loved best. I suppose my love of learning directed me into teaching.
Q2: Mr Bambuckle, can you expand a little on your philosophy when it comes to teaching/pedagogy? Children are remarkable little people.
Life would certainly be dull without remarkable little people. I have fifteen of them in my current class in room 12B. We have an awful lot of fun together. Of course, the children themselves often don’t know they’re learning. It’s amazing what can be achieved with a sense of excitement. My philosophy is simple: children will learn a great deal if want to be taught.
Q3: What was it that brought you to the children in 12B?
I’m beginning to learn it was fate. Well, that and a gut feeling when I stumbled across the ad online. There’s something about the children in room 12B that not many others I’ve taught have possessed. I’m yet to work out exactly what it is, but I sense they’re building up to something extraordinary.
Q4: Just excuse me a moment Mr Bambuckle, we’ll be right back with you ……this question is for your friend Tim. Tim, I understand that you have also taught. Perhaps you can tell us a little about your experiences in classrooms as the ‘man in charge’?
Hi there, Sue! Thanks for having me. I’ll pass on the Himalayan tea though, Mr B. Yes, I taught for fifteen years and loved it. I used to play the drums for my first class. If they worked quietly, we’d let out all the noise on the drum kit! I worked with some amazing teachers and taught a bunch of awesome little people.
Q5: And Tim, to continue – leading on from that – what sort of student were you at school? Were you the class clown or the geek or the nerdy suck up?
I was mostly quiet and well-mannered. However, I did have my quirks. A couple of friends and I would write silly skits at lunch and then beg our teacher to let us perform them to the class. I loved the thrill of drawing a laugh from a crowd. I rarely got in trouble, but if I did, it was usually for trying to make someone laugh.
Q6: Now Mr Bambuckle, you brought some interesting strategies to the classroom of 12B, where did you gain your training in these or what prompted you to create them?
Would you like more tea, Sue? You have certainly relaxed a lot during the interview. Though I suggest you stop belly dancing on the table. Now, to your question, I picked up most of my strategies through living life both inside and out of the classroom. If you allow yourself to experience much, eventually you’ll pick up some useful ideas and strategies.
Q7: Mr Bambuckle, you have a real knack, and I would judge a passion, for bringing out the best in a child – for giving a child with perhaps some low self confidence the boost they need to blossom. Can you elaborate on that aspect?
You simply must have a chat to dear Evie Nightingale. It’s children like her who make me look good. I suppose all it takes to boost confidence is giving each student the voice or platform they require to flourish. That, and a touch of bacon and eggs.
Q8: We have been left in somewhat of a limbo regarding Mr Bambuckle’s future as the continuing teacher for 12B – what can we expect in the near future? And as a rider to that, do you think that that dim-witted apoplectic principal is jealous of your success?
I was deeply saddened after my conversation with Mr Sternblast, as there is much work to be done in room 12B.The dear principal simply needs to drink more Himalayan tea. As you can tell, lovely Sue – and I would suggest climbing down from the bookcase – the tea is a wonderful relaxant. Mr Sternblast has other things on his mind, and I suspect that brings out the worst in him.
Q9: Back to you Tim, what principles do you hold dear in the teaching of our youngsters? How much of your philosophy is based on your real life experience? And how does that translate into bringing us the stories of Mr Bambuckle (*Swoon*)?
The relationships in a classroom were always at the centre of what I tried to do. Healthy relationships tend to remove other stresses, and a stress-free environment is supportive of good learning. I also tried to genuinely value every child I taught and would always look for the positive in them. This, combined with a strong understanding of the content and how to teach it, can make for some excellent learning.
Q10: This question is for both of you. As a teacher-librarian, there are times when I am so dismayed by the casual attitudes demonstrated by administrative types and also the dive in reading for pleasure that regularly occurs in middle school, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on ways you both think we might tackle this problem?
Tim: Shared reading was highly-prized time in my classroom. I tried to make it so much fun that it eventually become a reward. I remember sitting down with a book in my last class and the students rushed to the floor, cheering. Much depends on the teacher and how they portray what reading time can and should look like. I meet some amazing teacher-librarians and teachers when I visit schools, who celebrate books in their learning spaces. It’s encouraging to know that others are making a literary impact in their rooms. But it has to start at the top.
Mr Bambuckle: Blue Valley School’s teacher-librarian, Mrs Paige, is an excellent example of how we can tackle the problem. She always knows how to get the right book into the right hands, and she even lets some students borrow more than the allowed amount to satisfy their hunger for words. Put simply, her enthusiasm for books is contagious.
Q11: There are many readers keen to find out what next is in store for the excitement generated by you both. What can we share here on Just So Stories to give these kids a ‘teaser’?
Mr Bambuckle: Would you like another top up of tea, dear Sue? I daresay you’ve become quite fond of Himalayan brew during our interview. As a teaser, I can certainly reveal that remarkable things will continue happening in room 12B. Also, if you look closely at the cover of Book 2, you may just notice something on my shoulder – a bird! I can’t wait for you to meet him!
Tim: Lots is planned for 2018. The year kicks off with the release of Book 2 in the series in late January. I’ll be getting out and about, visiting lots of remarkable schools around Australia to chat all things bookish and creative. Book 3 is also underway, and we expect it will be released in September. There are a couple of other exciting things in the pipeline that will be revealed shortly.
Thank you both so much for your time. It has been such a huge pleasure to meet you both! I’d love to host you in my library at any time! Good luck with the next instalment in this wonderful insight into teaching and learning!
Mr Bambuckle: Thank you, lovely Sue. I think you’d rather enjoy the Himalayas.
Tim: Thanks, Sue! We look forward to visiting your library soon!