Tag Archives: Humour

Toffle Towers #1: Fully Booked – Tim Harris/James Foley

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Penguin

August 2019

ISBN: 9780143795421

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $14.99

Tim Harris, creator of the remarkable Mr Bambuckle, presents an equally daffy protagonist in this new series. Chegwin Toffle may be only ten years old but he is one very determined entrepreneur albeit prone to wild imaginings and daydreams. Chegwin is the sole beneficiary of his hitherto unknown great-uncle Terrence Toffle’s estate which turns out to be an extremely run-down and unprofitable hotel on the other side of the country. As one would expect Chegwin knows nothing about running a hotel and his parents know less if possible but being a caring child Chegwin is determined to give it a go if only to save the jobs of those loyal employees still in place at Toffle Towers.

It’s a tough gig in many ways not the least of which is the rival and wildly successful hotel nearby but Chegwin is not a dreamer for nothing. His imaginative strategies and the support of new friends and eccentric staff see a real turn-around in the hotel’s fortunes. Things just keep growing and growing and flying buses, milkshake baths and star-gazing dining rooms are just part of the process.

In a success story filled with laughs, odd characters (including Chegwin’s eccentric parents) and hilarious adventures Tim Harris has created a hotel to rival even the legendary Fawlty establishment. James Foley has completely captured the essence of the story and characters in his humorous illustrations and all in all this is bound to be a real hit with young readers.

Highly recommended for readers from around Year 3 upwards who will eagerly be looking forward to the next instalment!

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The Curse of the School Rabbit – Judith Kerr

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Harper Collins

July 2019

ISBN: 9780008352608

ISBN 10: 0008352607

Imprint: HarperCollins Children’sBooks

 

The late Judith Kerr’s final book, like all her glorious work, is quintessentially English, gently humorous and full of everyday adventure and family life.

When Snowball the school rabbit needs to be rabbit-sat for a time, Tommy’s little sister, Angie, is ecstatic. Tommy is less so having never forgiven Snowball for peeing on him. Nevertheless, Snowball settles in reasonably well and Tommy is mollified by his rabbit-keeping fee – particularly as he’s really been wanting a new bike but knows with his actor father out of work that’s not likely to happen for Christmas.

It’s even more unlikely when Snowball pees on the leg of a famous (though incredibly old) actor with whom Tommy’s father might get some work. Then Angie gets really sick and things are quite serious in the household. Tommy’s story for the school writing competition becomes one about a cursed rabbit as it seems to him that everything has taken a downward turn since Snowball came to stay.

But fortunately events turn around not only with a Shakespearean role for Dad and Angie’s recovery but a whole new exciting movie venture featuring a boy and a rabbit! Who knew?

This is a joy to read and children from around six years upwards will greatly enjoy its humour, emotions and descriptions. For me it’s a keeper – a beautiful reminder of the immense joy and richness which Judith Kerr brought into the lives of so many of us.

 

Stuck in the Mud: Peski Kids #3 – R. A. Spratt

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Penguin Random House9780143796350

August 2019

ISBN: 9780143796350

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $16.99

The Peski kids have certainly encountered some bizarre events since their arrival in the backwater town of Currawong but perhaps the annual town Mud Run is one of the most strange – to their minds at least. Added to this is the even more repugnant situation of Ingrid, the Swedish neighbour, moving into their house to consolidate a pretence of becoming engaged to their father – a ploy to deter the evil foreign agents who are holding their missing mother captive.

Despite the reluctance particularly of Joe and April, all three kids become embroiled in the ‘festivities’ of this strange town community event. Finn is pretty pleased to have won the right to design the course – visions of bulldozers and other heavy duty machinery, mud slides, diabolic obstacles and just pure devilry are his inspiration. Joe is lured by the promise of baked goods and of course April is forced, due to her rather forthright treatment of the new vision-impaired student, to partner said classmate so that he can compete.

Possibly this could all work out without undue additional stress but when the prize money is stolen in a daring bank heist, someone has to step up and who better than this ‘outside-the-square-thinking’ tribe?

Once again R. A. Spratt has brought the comedic muscle she is known for to another fabulously engaging story for kiddos aged from around 8 years upwards. Following the successes of Nanny Piggins and Friday Barnes, the Peski Kids are fast becoming firm favourites with middle school reading fans. The ‘snort laugh’ is always my measure of a truly hilarious book – and this new episode did not fail to deliver.

Highly recommended for your readers from Year 3 upwards!

The Pinballs – Betsy Byars

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Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780062881786

ISBN 10: 0062881787

Imprint: HarperCollins – US

July 2019

List Price: 16.99 AUD

 

Now in her 90s award-winning American author Betsy Byars first published The Pinballs in 1977. As I re-read this new edition I wondered if she thought that perhaps the fate of some children might improve over time. It seems that the plight of so many is far worse than the children in her novel, a sad and terrible indictment of our human society.

Three foster children are placed with a warm and loving couple, the Masons, who have successfully changed the lives of 17 other children.

Carlie is the first to arrive, having been removed from the reach of a violent stepfather by children’s services. She is brash and sarcastic but hides an unbearable longing to be with her mother and siblings.

Next is Harvey who is confined to a wheelchair after his father ‘accidentally’ running him over and breaking both his legs. Since Harvey’s mother left when he was small, he has had to basically fend for himself and his greatest desire is to find his mother on the commune/farm she calls her new home.

Thomas J was a mere toddler when he wandered up the driveway of the aged Benson twins’ farm, apparently abandoned. The spinster sisters took him in and always meant to contact the authorities but somehow never did. With both of them in the hospital after bad falls there is no one else to care for the small boy who doesn’t even know his real name or birthday.

At first it seems the disparate personalities of the three kids will cause friction but as time goes by and circumstances change for all of them, their friendship deepens.  They cease to be ‘pinballs’ bouncing around from bad situation to worse and start to become a bonded family. The patience and kindness of the Masons has much to do with this and they gradually build the self-esteem of each child.

It’s not a long book, more a novella really, but it is packed with emotions: poignancy, grief, humour, self-awareness and more.

Despite its age and references to 70s contemporary pop culture such as TV shows or toys, this is a book that truly stands the test of time and is just as, if not more, relevant in these times.

If you are looking for a different read-aloud for your middle school kiddos this would be a wonderful choice and an introduction to the other great works by Byars. I know that my year 5s once upon a time also loved The Great Gilly Hopkins but there are many others from which to choose. You will also find plenty of teaching notes etc for this book which is often used in US schools.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

 

 

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid – Jeff Kinney

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Penguin Random House

9781760892517

April  2019

Puffin

RRP: $14.99

 

After 13 Wimpy Kid books the series shows no signs of losing any popularity – kids from 8 to 15 are still lapping them up voraciously.  However, if such an unlikely event were to occur, Jeff Kinney has come up with a superb new twist on his famous characters.

 

We all know Rowley, Greg’s best friend and faithful sidekick and now he’s writing his own diary. Well, that’s how it begins but as usual with Greg’s influence it becomes rather more. In fact, it morphs into a biography of Greg as told by Rowley – who is quite possibly not the best choice for a writer to immortalise one’s talented and exciting life.

 

Rowley’s rather innocent outlook on life and indeed, Greg, makes for hilarious entries in his diary and only rarely does he allow himself to be the tiniest bit critical of his life-long friend. Whether it’s recalling past pranks or troubles or dares, readers gain a whole new perspective on Greg and Rowley – well, ok that may be a bit of an exaggeration as we all know that Rowley is the nice one and Greg is really a bit of a pain as a friend.

 

No matter, fans will gobble this up as quickly as the others and no doubt re-read it as many times.

 

Probably no need to recommend it because it will fly off the shelves regardless but still – recommended for those who like a bit of silliness and a fun read from around 8 years upwards.

 

Pirate Pug: The Dog who Rocked the Boat – Laura James/Eglantine Ceulemans

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Bloompiratepugsbury Australia

February 2019

ISBN 9781408895948

Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Series: The Adventures of Pug

RRP $12.99

This is the fourth in this hugely funny series for newly independent readers and just as hilarious as the earlier ones. Pug and his owner, Lady Miranda, seem to encounter all kinds of mischief and mishaps whenever and wherever they venture out. So a holiday at the seaside would be no different of course. Pug is none too fond of the water and quite frankly is absolutely terrified of the thought of getting on a boat but when the Lady Mayor’s chain is whisked away by a piratical parrot it seems there is no choice but to become a sea-going pug.

Local bully boys seem determined to beat Lady Miranda and her friends at rescuing the stolen treasure and even dare to scupper their ship but they don’t reckon on Pug’s resilience and his ability to turn the worse situation into an advantage.

Loads of laughs with some very entertaining illustrations abound and this is perfect fodder for readers from around six years upwards. I have a couple of the previous books tucked into my ‘relief teacher’ bag of supplies and they never fail to engage as a read-aloud for kids as old as ten.  However, I know a little girl who is an enthusiastic reader who might really like this particular one so it’s off to her it goes!

Bad Nana #1: Older but Not Wiser – Sophy Henn

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Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780008268053

ISBN 10: 0008268053

Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

June 2018

RRP $17.99

Newly independent readers who love a giggle are bound to fall in love with Bad Nana and her granddaughter, Jeanie. Of course Bad Nana isn’t really bad – but she is cheeky and unconventional, most definitely mischievous, and certainly the type of granny that any kid would want to claim.

Jeanie and her baby brother spend a lot of time with Bad Nana as both their parents work full time and that suits Jeanie just fine. Of course there are times when Bad Nana can be a little embarrassing and she’s very good at getting Jeanie involved in her madcap antics. You know, like the time she accompanies Jeanie’s class to the local museum which is the most boring excursion ever and made worse by the grumpy curator. The angry man is almost beside himself with criticising the children and even humiliating them but Bad Nana doesn’t stand for such nonsense and when she slips herself into Henry VIII’s seat at the mock medieval feast, replacing the mannequin, she ensures her aim with a chicken drumstick and more is spot on.

Bad Nana’s no-nonsense attitude and her rather unique appearance are very endearing. Young readers will really feel attracted to her and the stories are wildly funny without being nasty or mean (well, except for the rather horrid class show off, Lydia). Bad Nana’s exquisite timing in giving bullies their come-uppance will definitely appeal to youngsters who will giggle all the way.

Apart from the hilarious story line the eye-popping fluoro colour scheme of lime, hot pink and black of the illustrations will really give a shot of excitement.

Highly recommended for readers from around seven years upwards.

Fish Kid and the Lizard Ninja – Kylie Howarth

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Walker Books

ISBN: 9781760650810
Imprint: Walker Books Australia: February 1, 2019
Australian RRP: $14.99
New Zealand RRP: $16.99

If you have readers who love a good fun story with a bit of interesting information plus a smattering of a conservation message this will be a huge hit.  The first in a new series Kylie Howarth has set up readers for a hilarious romp following the adventures of Fish Kid.

Bodhi is not at all interested in the ocean or the creatures that inhabit it -especially the scary ones. But he has little chance to escape either with a father who is a marine biologist and a mother who is an underwater photographer. He is particularly unhappy at being trapped in a boat in the Galapagos Islands with a very annoying skipper’s daughter who keeps pranking him

When Emely persuades Bodhi to drink a special smoothie she’s made – mentioning the mango but omitting the sea cucumber and jelly fish ingredients – Bodhi has a terrible allergic reaction which ends up with them both overboard and stranded on a lonely island. But there has also been a more long term effect. Bodhi can now swim like a super fish and stay submerged for simply ages! With no sign of being rescued, the pair engineers their own escape accompanied by a rather large and ugly, though seemingly intelligent, marine iguana. Their mission is a success and along the way they manage to alert the authorities to a sea cucumber poaching racket.

Throughout the text are scattered fact pages about the various sea creatures which Bodhi and his parents encounter which offers readers a fantastic opportunity to increase their knowledge of these. Also on offer is the underlying repeated message about preserving our marine habitats.

All in all this a great package for readers from around eight years upwards.

Activity pack: Fish_Kid_Activity_Kit_FINAL_WEB.01

Sampler: Fish_Kid_Sampler

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables On the Lookout: #3 – Tim Harris

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9780143793144

February 5, 2019

Puffin

RRP: $14.99

 

Even those who have not been privileged enough to sip Himalayan tea with Mr Bambuckle are completely taken with the adventures of his class 12B. The continual struggle to defeat the pressures put upon them by short-sighted school admin individuals and to foster each child blossoming into their full potential is real.

When 12B goes to camp they are eagerly anticipating a real adventure, particularly when it appears that their campsite is ‘off the radar’ so to speak. Even though there are the usual hiccups with students not completely in sync with each other, it’s shaping up well. That is until, Miss Frost turns up. The snarky new deputy seems intent to find fault with every little thing.

Still, 12B with Mr Bambuckle’s backing and natural flair seem determined to prove Miss Frost’s dire prognostications wrong and equally committed to supporting their much loved teacher.

 

But when Vex goes missing it seems that all is doomed to become a swan song for Mr Bambuckle. It’s up to 12B to save the day and their teacher.

 

Tim Harris’ recounts of the adventures of Mr B and 12B are not only highly amusing but have much to offer young readers about loyalty, friendship, empathy and honesty.

 

If your kidlets have not yet caught onto the Bambuckle  phenomenon make sure you buy this and the first two in the series and watch them roll in the aisles laughing.

 

Highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.

 

Treasure of the Golden Skull: Maudlin Towers #2 – Chris Priestley

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Bloomsbury

December 2018

ISBN: 9781408873106
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP : $14.99 AU $16.99 NZ

Readers return to the wacky world of Maudlin Towers with Mildew and Sponge as they attempt to save their mouldering school from closure, due to its pecuniary troubles. Ever since the funds for the renovations disappeared in time (see the first book) there seems to be no solution to the threat of closure.   That is until Mildew and Sponge realise the possibility of the legendary Captain Greenbeard, fearsome pirate (and as it turns out, Mildew’s ancestor) having buried his treasure nearby.

It is rather unfortunate however that it’s not just the bumbling pair hunting treasure. Due to Kenningworth’s big mouth and newspaper coverage the school is taken over by pirates from Greenbeard’s crew who are also after the treasure.

As usual despite their ineptitude Mildew and Sponge manage by dint of accident rather than brilliance to save the day. These are hilarious stories which are sort of a mash up of Molesworth and comic horror which many readers will find a really enjoyable read.

Recommended for able readers (given the word play throughout etc) from around ten years upwards.