Tag Archives: Humour

The Peski Kids #1: The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach – R. A. Spratt

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9780143788812

Penguin Random House

9780143788812

July 30, 2018

Puffin

 

$16.99

 

There were many sad faces in my library when I reported that the Friday Barnes series had come to an end (including mine) but there was the consolation that R. A. Spratt was working on a new series. And here it is! And it’s hilarious! I was tucked up in bed reading it and snort-laughing at so many times.

I’ve said before that Spratt has such a knack for creating quirky characters and a real sense of the absurd and it doesn’t get much quirkier or absurd than this narrative!  Meet Joe, sixteen and a bit gawky with a nervous stammer, Fin (i.e. Sharkfin) thirteen and April, twelve, siblings who are always arguing – easy enough as April is pretty much your semi-psycho anarchist tween who live with their mother, a middle-aged professor of paleontology –  or so the children think.

It’s not until a wholly unexpected visit from their mother’s boss, Professor Maynard, that the children discover that their mum is actually an international spy who has been incarcerated by the dreaded Kolektiv organization. As the kids are now also targets they are rushed out of their home minutes before it explodes and re-located hours later in the country town of Currawong and the home of their father, who is without doubt the most eccentric, absent-minded and wimpish dad ever. He’s clearly unaccustomed to children whether his own or not. The kids’ entrée into Currawong community life is  far from auspicious as they (April) scorn such long-held traditions as the Cockroach Races, lawn bowls and flat caps and escalates when competitive cockroaches begin being nobbled. Throw into the mixture a bizarre but beautiful neighbor, a maniacal dog (April’s) and a host of weird and sociopathic townspeople and you have the makings of a series that is going to captivate kids right from the get-go.

Watch the book trailer here and R. A. Spratt talking about the book here.

Without a nano-second’s hesitation, highly recommended for your readers aged from around ten years upwards.

 

 

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Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables #3: Go Wild – Tim Harris

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9780143789024

Penguin Random House

9780143789024

September 3, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP : $14.99

 

Being curled up and cosy with a steaming cup of Himalayan tea – what could be better? If you have the new adventure of Mr B and 12B to make you laugh, of course.

The class camp is going to be super-fun with Mr Bambuckle’s feathered friend Dodger having carefully chosen the right location and Mr B’s own unique style of doing things which means it’s not going to be your average school camp. However, it looks as though plans are going to be thwarted when the heinous new deputy-principal Miss Frost (think Tilda Swinton as the White Witch from Narnia) turns up to throw cold water over any proposed activities.

Naturally the imperturbable Mr Bambuckle is more than equal to dealing with a rigidly frigid administrator and the class seems well able to follow his lead and their own initiative to survive any obstacle put in their way. The whole class – except Vex who sleeps the entire duration of the camp – are triumphant in their successes but it does not escape their notice that Mr B seems just a little too friendly to the dreaded Miss Frost. What next for the intrepid class? Well, as Vex has disappeared mysteriously when the camp is struck – it could be almost anything!

Kids in my readership have been gobbling up the first two in this series and I can guarantee they will be grabbing this one as quickly as they can as well!

Highly recommended for kids (ok yes and grownups) who love to laugh at complete absurdity!

Tom Weekly 6:  My Life and other Failed Experiments – Tristan Bancks. Illustrated by Gus Gordon

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tomweekly

Penguin Random House

9780143781615

July 2, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP: $14.99

So my read last night was the new hilarious instalment in Tom Weekly’s adventures and it didn’t disappoint. Fortunately alone in my bedroom there’s no one to witness my snorts of laughter!

Where to start? Well I just loved Nanna Nancy’s stealthy attempted sabotage of the fruit cake competition and the skilful way in which she makes Tom her patsy for the crime. Then of course there’s the traumatic guinea pig hostage situation where the very image of Tanya ending up in a rubbish bin filled me with absolute joy – and of course Gus the guinea pig surviving triumphantly.

Skroop’s massive detention siege and the ultimate revenge of having bully Brent getting his come-uppance is pretty sweet as is getting the better of the world’s angriest ice-cream man. Tom’s smelly bottom issue and baby-sitting Jack’s horrid little brother Barney are both as funny as but without doubt, the pièce de résistance is the Killer Possums, for which I have been waiting with great anticipation.

My visual of a posse of possums in a conga line and Tom covered head to toe in possums made me laugh aloud and was indeed worth the wait.

As usual, interspersed with the chapters, is much useful Tom Weekly advice such as reasons to get your parents off social media and household hacks along with ‘Would you rather……’.

Again, Tristan has given us a prime motivator to get kids reading – and enjoying it – this is bound to be another sure-fire winner with the kids from around Year 3 upwards.

Woot! Keep on bringing it Tristan and Gus!

The Chocolate Factory Ghost – David O’Connell

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the-chocolate-factory-ghost

Bloomsbury

ISBN: 9781408887066
ISBN-10: 1408887061
Series: The Dundoodle Mysteries
Published: 1st May 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

RRP; $12.99

Archie McBudge has lucky underpants. He knows he does because he and his mum have just discovered that Archie has inherited a huge mansion, a famous sweets factory and more from his Great-Uncle Archibald. What makes this even more astonishing is that neither Archie nor his mum even knows the old man existed until this moment.

Anyone might think this is a recipe for a very happy ending with a full stop but not so as Archie discovers that there is definitely something sinister, spooky and even supernatural going on at Honeystone Hall. Luckily his new albeit odd friends Fliss and Billy are ready and willing to help Archie unravel the complexities of flying letters leading to cryptic clues, strange artefacts, and horrible twin Piglet cousins not to mention finding the secret ingredient on which McBudge’s famous fudge depends.

Lots of fun for readers from around eight years upwards. There will be plenty of laughs as well as a few creepy moments – just the right balance of both!

Check out David O’Connell’s webpage here for more information, teaching notes and a fun activity pack.

Little Lunch: Triple The Games– Danny Katz/Mitch Vane

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littlelunch

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781760650278
Imprint: Black Dog Books
March 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $12.99

The kids from Little Lunch really do crack me up! As I’ve said before I reckon I’ve taught every one of them at one time or another.  The fun continues for fans of the popular TV show with this latest instalment of another three stories.

Sport-obsessed Tamara needs to find a new walking buddy for the school walkathon. Her last year’s partner, Melanie, is definitely off the list for stopping to rest and, for goodness sake, tie up her shoelaces. Of course, Melanie has taken herself off the list anyway because when she fell Tamara didn’t even stop to help her up. But finding a suitably competitive buddy is difficult and after all this is all about winning and getting your name on the gold cup – oh and of course raising money for the school’s African sponsor-child.  Still, despite her obvious sporting superiority, Tamara finds it difficult to find the right applicant and things start to look a little desperate.

And on the note of competitiveness is the school talent show.  Rory’s plan to shut the girls into the toilets so that he can resume his rightful place as Atticus’ magic assistant does not quite work the way he imagines it will and so the chaos continues with identical songs, costumes and snarky sniping until of course it all unravels relatively neatly – well, sort of.

Definitely my favourite is Rory declaring himself Prime Minister. Since he spends most of his time outside the principal’s office he’s taken on acting as a deputy principal but feels he has more to offer. The ensuing anarchy, Mrs Gonsha’s attempts to divert the drama into learning about democracy and the hilarious outcome is worth the read. Vote for Rory!

Highly recommended for your readers from around 8 years upwards!

Who Hid the Socks?  – Rosemary Coombs/ Lorraine Robertson & Warren Brown

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socks

Bullawai Books

April 2018

  • 9780994611819
  • 9780994611826

RRP: $16.99

We all know the problem of disappearing socks. Miss Small favours odd socks but even with that un-complication we still seem to be scratching around for the little blighters often.

So many children will get the giggles as they help search for the missing socks in the illustrations in this new book. Part rhyme and part prose it has a joyful rhythm and lots of interaction along the way.

In all this time I’ve never expected that the family cat (or cats in our case) might be responsible for sock thievery! But then neither of ours is called Socks so perhaps we will have to search out another thief!

As well as the missing socks children have the opportunity to re-examine the colourful illustrations to find other objects via checklists at the end of the book.

This is a fun and simple book for little readers from around 4 years upwards. It would make a super bedtime read to explore and find all the items.

Recommended for kindy & child care groups as well as Junior Primary classes.

Available on request from Bullawai Books, (Specialist Publication and Editing Services ABN 14790495731)
through email

Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: The Case of the Missing Hippo – Laura James

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fabio

Bloomsbury

March 2018
ISBN: 9781408889312
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP  : AU$12.99

Like many others I am addicted to great detective fiction be it books or TV shows and also like many others my favourite sleuth is the one and only Hercule Poirot (as in David Suchet not – you know who KB bleuggh). So you might well imagine how delighted I was to read this new book from the creator of Captain Pug and discover a flamingo version of HP!

Fabio politely tipped his hat. ‘Fabio, the world’s greatest flamingo detective at your service, Madam.’

He’s no hulking giant but a mere pink slip of a thing and very very clever. Really he just wants to sip his pink lemonade and listen to the jazz music at his favourite venue, the Hotal Royale. His constant companion Gerald the giraffe, a gentle soul but also a complete duffer accompanies him.

However, there is no peaceful interlude for Fabio as the nightclub launches its talent show, he is roped in to being one of the judges and the likely winner of the show, a brilliant jazz-singing hippo goes missing.

There are plenty of suspects including Fabio’s fellow judges – a slippery python car salesman and the bizarre knitting secretary bird, Enid, owner of the local ballet school among them.  The local Lake Laloozee Chief Inspector Duff is no match for Fabios’s superior intellect –‘it’s a matter of logic’ – and this crime unravels faster than Enid’s knitting in the calm flamingo’s capable hands – errr, wings.

This is really good fun and the fluoro pink and green combination used throughout the design and illustrations is fantastic.

Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards who enjoy a spot of sleuthing and a lot of laughs.

Planet Middle School – Nikki Grimes

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planet

Bloomsbury

ISBN: 9781619630123
ISBN-10: 1619630125

Format: Paperback
Imprint: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Publish Date: 2-Jan-2018
Country of Publication: United States

RRP AU $14.99

Joylin Johnson has an uncomplicated life at 12 years old as she has had all her life. Baggy jeans and t-shirts, plain ponytail and a passion for basketball which she regularly plays with the neighbourhood boys make her completely happy. But stuff is changing; her body, her sudden attention to cute boys, her best basketball buddy’s ‘different’ attitude towards her and her bestie’s interest in her best basketball buddy. It’s all very confusing as is trying out make up, pierced ears, skirts and heels.

Nikki Grimes uses short poems to perfectly capture Joy’s adolescent anguish in a very easy to read and engaging verse novel. It is in turn heartfelt and humorous with some real laugh-out-loud though cringe worthy moments.

Though very American it is still easily accessible and relevant to tweens in this country as Joy struggles with her identity issue until finally realising that actually being just you is the best plan.

Grimes is an award winning author of several books and this one earned a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. Read more about Nikki Grimes here.

Highly recommended for middle to upper primary girls.

 

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables:  Fight Back – Tim Harris

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fighback

9780143785873

January 29, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP : $14.99

The kids in 12B are pretty despondent.  Mr Bambuckle has been sent packing by Principal Sternblast and their replacement teacher Miss Frost is as icy as her name.  Every day is a complete nightmare with dreary worksheets and stony silences.  However, there is some hope when mysterious messages from Mr Bambuckle appear randomly. Scarlett discovers the wonders of PhotoCrop and the meaning of Mr B’s message about her having magic fingers becomes clear as she realises she can displace things – even people. Goodbye Miss Frost!

It’s not Scarlett alone who has brought about the good-riddance of their snarly teacher nor is it her doing that the school board reinstates Mr Bambuckle. This is a class who can, when needed, work together to achieve great things.

With Mr B back, on his unicycle with bacon and eggs and Himalayan tea, the class is ready to fire up their imaginations and their self belief.

The text is interspersed with lists and other bits and pieces which makes for some relief for those kidlets who struggle a little with large amounts of print.

Tim Harris kicks another goal with this continuation of the hilarity of Mr Bambuckle’s remarkable class. If you missed my previous review and the lunatic Q&A with Mr B and Tim look back – it’s definitely worth the giggle!

 

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards – I believe this is one series that will really grab those reluctant readers.

 

Triple Treat: Jacqueline Harvey, Belinda Murrell and R. A. Spratt

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Such fun to open parcels with books from the most popular authors in my library – and my literary circle! The titles from this trio are highly sought after among my readers and there is always much exchanging in the returns line up with ‘She had this but I want to borrow it next’.

To make it an even more interesting mix there is a beginning, a ‘middle’ and, sadly, an ending.

Kensy and Max #1: Breaking News – Jacqueline Harvey

K&M

9780143780656

February 26, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $16.99

Without a doubt, Jacqueline Harvey has the girls from 7 to teens eating out of the palm of her hand with her Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda series.  And if you have not had the pleasure of Jacqueline presenting at your school I suggest that you do as she is without doubt the most energetic and engaging author I’ve seen in action.

Now Jacqueline has turned her considerable talents to a series pitched at both boys and girls with a hugely popular premise – espionage! Kensy and Max are twins both alike and also very different. They are well used to living all over the globe as their parents, apparently, are first responders in both tourist resorts and in crisis/humanitarian situations. However, when the pair finds themselves in a completely strange house with only their ‘manny’ Fitz in loco parentis things being to turn very mysterious indeed with their parents missing in a civil revolt and house inhabitants who are both strange and yet oddly familiar.

The two are in turn baffled and curious and begin to piece puzzle pieces together of their own initiative. It would seem that MI6 is a ‘family’ thing!

This new series has both memorable characters and believable circumstances which will thoroughly intrigue readers from around 8 years upwards. I don’t need to use my considerable powers of ESP to predict that this will be as big a winner as Jacqueline’s other series.

Highly recommended for readers from mid-primary up – get it on your shelves ASAP!

 

Pippa’s Island #3: Kira Dreaming – Belinda Murrell

pippa3

9780143783701

January 2, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $14.99

 

Without fail, if I put a Belinda Murrell book, whether Lulu Bell or one of the time slip series into a girl’s hands, I have her hooked from that moment. I’d like to think it’s my skill as a teacher-librarian but really its Belinda’s talent at knowing exactly what will grab her readers!

 

This is the third in her latest series and already I have girls clamouring for the next so this will be a huge hit when school goes back. There is something just purely delightful and happy about Pippa and her friends and family, even though there are serious moments e.g. Pippa’s absent dad. This doesn’t detract as I believe so many children can relate to the ambivalence about a parent who has absconded from the family. It’s difficult for them to reconcile their own love for that parent and the feeling of rejection/abandonment.

In this new episode, the Sassy Sisters are entering the school talent quest and while Pippa’s besties, Cici, Meg and Charlie are rapt about this opportunity, Pippa has real problems with her stage fright. Unexpectedly, it is this which provides a catalyst for Pippa to resume some ‘friendly’ relations with her MIA father.

These stories are fabulous narratives about real life situations to which readers can relate – despite the fact that they may not live on a tropical island!

Again, highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards and if you’ve missed the first two, put them on your ‘to buy’ list as well!

 

Friday Barnes #8: Never Fear – R. A. Spratt

fridayfinal

9780143784203

January 2, 2018

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $15.99

 

When I gently broke the news to my avid Friday readers that the forthcoming book would be the last in the series there was full scale caterwauling and gnashing of teeth. The only thing that saved me from literary lynching was the promise of a new series in the pipeline – whew!

 

I’ve mentioned this before. I love Friday! I love her geekiness, her gauche-ness, her daggy clothes and social ineptitude.

 

Highcrest Academy has a new principal and she is one seemingly mean and shockingly capable young woman. She promptly promotes Friday to Year 12 to ‘extend’ her and Friday is convinced that this means she’s just one step away from being ousted from what she regards as her home.

Along with this is the persistent rumour of long hidden gold somewhere in the school grounds and when implosions and explosions begin to disrupt the regular (!!) routine of Highcrest everyone is on edge.

 

Some huge questions are answered in this final volume. Will Friday ever kiss Ian? Can Melanie stay awake long enough to observe it? Who will still be a student in the academy at the end of year? Is the new principal who she says she is or an imposter? And will Friday ever kiss Ian? 😉

 

There will be some sad faces at this the final Friday chapter but reassure your readers that more great stuff is on its way from R. J. Spratt’s imaginative mind!

Highly recommended for readers from around mid-primary upwards.