Tag Archives: Humour

Evie and Pog (series)– Tania McCartney

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Evie and Pog Take Off FINAL COVER

Harper Collins Australia

January 2020

I’ve said before that Tania McCartney is uber-talented (as well as being one of the very nicest humans I know) and I for one am tremendously excited about this new series pitched at newly independent readers. It’s just fabulous to see a few new series to add to these collections!

 High in a tree house live two very best friends. One is a girl and one is a dog. And everyone knows them as Evie and Pog.

So starts each book and just like ‘Once upon a time..’ the pattern will signal to children that the fun and adventures are about to begin. These stories absolutely ooze exuberance with their characters and antics. Evie is six years old and lives with Pog in a slightly eccentric tree house alongside Granny Gladys who lives in a rather large, though no less eccentric, house. Evie loves crashing her cymbals, rolling in the daisy spot lawn, reading, cakes and knitting. Pog loves reading too but he prefers to sit at the table with a large cup of tea and his newspaper. He also loves vegetables – in any shape or form. Granny is a tidier and a rampant cleaner who is almost permanently attached to her dust buster. She also loves knitting and baking cakes (though not the mess that always seems to arise from cooking!).

They have some good friends like Noah and Mr Pooch and Miss Footlights and the adventures often include these characters.

Each book contains three separate stories and the uniform format with the double page spread of the tree house plan as the frontispiece and the cast of characters and the map of the village on the final pages gives readers that sense of continuity and familiarity they love.

Each is chockers with Tania’s humorous and always endearing  illustrations and loaded with onomatopoeia and a wonderful variety of fonts giving each an even more lively feel.

Evie and Pog: Take Off! [Evie and Pog #1]

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ISBN: 9781460757932

ISBN 10: 1460757939

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

List Price: 12.99 AUD

  •  Puppy School Mess
  •  School Play Drama
  •  Cake Stall Chaos

 

I’m pretty sure you can surmise from the story titles that there is a continuing theme of incidents filled with rambunctiousness and hilarity which generally involve lots of  knitting yarn (usually in tangles), cakes and unexpected happenings.

For example, when Granny decides Pog must go to Puppy School with Mr Pooch it is not the dogs who win the Puppy Challenge  – and certainly not Pog who is completely and utterly against such demeaning activities – but Evie who aces the challenge course and becomes the first ‘girl’ winner.

 

 

Evie and Pog: Puppy Playtime! [Evie and Pog #2]

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ISBN: 9781460757949

ISBN 10: 1460757947

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

List Price: 12.99 AUD

  • Reno Rumble
  • Classroom Contraption
  • Puppy Park

The tree house is freezing and Evie, Pog and Granny decide it’s time to renovate and what better way to do so than with knitting. They could really use some help though and when Noah comes to visit they know he will be the perfect person to assist – even only they can work out how to get him up into the tree house, Noah being too heavy for the basket which is the general method of entry.

Of course throughout each of these is again the signature knitting, cakes, often surprising accidental events which are always resolved happily (and with the aid of the aforementioned knitting and cakes).

These are truly hilarious and quirky almost to a point of outlandishly silly which little readers will absolutely love. The belly laughs will be plentiful I predict!

 

Highly recommended for younger readers from around six years upwards. What a joy they are!

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Total Quack Up Again! – Edited by Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck. Illustrated by Jules Faber.

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9781760893583

Penguin Australia

October 2019

ISBN: 9781760893583

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $14.99

Get quacking if you haven’t already and grab this second edition of hilarious stories from some of our most celebrated authors as well as one young newcomer!

The first TQU was a great success not only providing children with some super funny stories but raising funds for Dymocks Children’s Charities. At this critical moment Dymocks are well and truly focused on providing valuable support for children affected by the catastrophic bushfires which are still burning.

Featuring stories from Nat Amoore, Felice Arena, Adam Cece, Jules Faber, Tim Harris, Kim Kane, Belinda Murrell, A.L. Tait, Shelley Ware, Michael Wagner and Nova Weetman as well as young Coby Sanchez whose story The Duck Pond was determined the winner of the story-writing competition, this collection will have kids everywhere chuckling with gusto.

With all the aspects young readers are looking for including ridiculous situations, ‘smelly’ stories and weird characters this will be a welcome addition to any primary library.

Be sure to tell children how this book (and its predecessor) represents a special and generous initiative by not only the Dymocks group but the talented authors/artists who so generously give of their time and talent.

Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.

The Peski Kids: Near Extinction #4 – R. A. Spratt

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9780143796367

Penguin Australia

January 2020

ISBN: 9780143796367

Imprint: Puffin

Format: Paperback

RRP: $16.99

Readers may rest assured that this latest episode in The Peski Kids once again passes the snort-laugh test with flying colours. There is something truly inspired about these completely kooky characters.

This new instalment opens with the reluctant wedding of Dad and the intimidating Ingrid but is rudely interrupted not by the kids but a strange foreign woman delivering an impassioned message from imprisoned Mum. While shy Joe, pedantic Finn and firecracker April (not to mention the irascible Pumpkin) would willingly stop the wedding there is more to this situation than meets the eye.

While Dad and Ingrid disappear purportedly to the city for a little break before the wedding resumes, the kiddos along with Loretta, newly adopted into the family and even more newly expelled from her private school, are trapped into a doleful school excursion to the famed (using the term loosely) Dinosaur museum at Gulargambone (which was pretty much my loudest snort-laugh as having lived in the Central West for 12 long years which was made even longer by the fact that it IS the Central West).

Of course no one would expect an excursion either from the Currawong school or which includes the Peski kids to go according to plan and so it is. Finn is trapped in a dinosaur’s mouth, Joe is hotly pursued by love-lorn Daisy and April threatens to derail the whole trip but no one expects the intrusion of dangerous jewel thieves. Meanwhile Dad and Ingrid who are not in the city are on a rescue mission somewhere deep in Europe and Dad has to pull out all his limited reserves of courage and ingenuity to be of use.

The hilarity just keeps on coming and Spratt’s comedic gifts will have readers guffawing with abandon once again.  And as to be expected the story concludes with a nicely set up segue into the next volume. Roll on #5!!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

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Attack of the Meteor Monsters [Maudlin Towers #3] – Chris Priestley

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9781408873137

Bloomsbury

October 2019

ISBN: 9781408873120
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $15.99

 

If you or your readers haven’t caught onto this series yet I would urge you to do so. While we all know it’s important to have narratives which deal with significant issues or concepts, it’s equally important to just have a chuckle in my opinion – and Maudlin Towers certainly does this ‘par excellence’.

Very reminiscent of Ronald Searle’s fabulous St Trinian’s and his collaboration with Geoffrey Willans on the Molesworth series, Maudlin Towers and it’s chief characters Mildew and Sponge are dim-witted inept students in an outstandingly chaotic school which always seems to be running into adventures of the strangest ilk.

In this new adventure the school is inundated by some rather odd girls and their teacher while at the same time Mildew and Sponge witness what they at first believe to be a meteor crashing to earth. As the story unravels it becomes apparent that the ‘meteor’ is in fact a space ship and its occupants have dispersed – coincidence? I think not. When a second space vehicle arrives complete with large scary but hilarious mechanical spiders the pace quickens and predictably further rumbustifcations ensue.

I cannot say I detect any deep meaningful concepts (except perhaps to not always be mentally consumed by the thought of biscuits!) but it is all raging good fun wonderfully written and illustrated by Priestley.

Do your kiddos a favour and get some humour into their bookshelves – indeed why not buy all three if you have not already done so!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

The Australia Survival Guide – George Ivanoff

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Penguin Australia

October 2019

ISBN: 9780143796572

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $24.99

George Ivanoff is not just a pretty face. Under that luxuriant  mop of ever-changing hair there’s an inventive and clever brain which can produce not only awesome adventures of the fictional kind for readers but now the ultimate field guide to surviving in the harsh reality of the Australian landscape.

Naturally, George being George, this is not just a dry and dull book of sensible information but is crammed with quirky facts, funny interjections, news articles, and scientific information about creatures of all kinds, first aid tips and much much more. I love the way the book finishes off with the wacky aspects of Australia – the ‘big’ things, weird slang, Vegemite and neatly a glossary to explain any difficulties (which might be very useful for foreign readers!).

From Swimming Death to Totally Fake Death, Wibbly-Wobbly Death to Death from Above every conceivable aspect of our country’s multiple potential hazards is covered but always partnered with practical suggestions for avoiding the ghastliness of being dead in the landscape.

A particularly favourite chapter for me is the one on Not Death (Bush Tucker and Bush Medicine) and I think readers who are as yet unfamiliar with the native bounty of our bush will be intrigued by this cultural inclusion.

All in all I must agree with George….”I’m beginning to think that even though Australia is DANGEROUS…maybe the good things outweigh the bad? Apart from the occasional natural disaster, staying alive seems to be a matter of commons sense. It’s about avoiding the dangerous things…”

Thanks George for an entertaining and informative read which I know many young people will thoroughly enjoy, particularly those from around mid-primary to mid-secondary.

Highly recommended for your collection or any avid adventurer of your acquaintance.

Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein [Young Readers Adaptation]

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Harper Collins Australia

August 2019

ISBN: 9780062935076

ISBN 10: 0062935070

Imprint: HarperCollins – US

List Price: 14.99 AUD

For everyone who has loved the series of A Dog’s Purpose (which definitely includes me and K) this book will bring much joy though at times it is both poignant and tense.

It is the story of a family in essence. Beginning with the adoption of the smart and funny Enzo by Denny, amateur (but yearning to be professional) racing car enthusiast and following the often difficult trials that ensue after Denny’s marriage to Eve and the subsequent birth of Zoe, their daughter. At first Eve and Enzo are rather in a stalemate situation, neither thinking very highly of the other but after Zoe’s arrival and Enzo’s slavish devotion to and unfailing protection of her their relationship changes.

However family life can often be fraught, indeed heartbreaking, and at times can be under serious threat of falling apart and so it is in this instance. But throughout all it is Enzo who is ever present and faithful to the preservation of the fragility of his humans. He may be a canine but he is intelligent and understands everything that is happening around him and is determined to do anything he can to support Denny and Zoe.

Funny and tender, insightful and courageous, mute but definitely expressive Enzo’s observations, humour and loyalty will make you laugh and cry. It is truly delightful.

This special edition of the best-selling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain is timed to tie-in with the upcoming movie version. I can highly recommend it for readers from around 12 years upwards.

The Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times: #3 – Cressida Cowell

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9781444941470

Hachette

SEP 24, 2019 | 9781444941470 | RRP $19.99

Not strange at all – looking up and seeing three children clutching a magical flying door high above a forest. Well ok, perhaps a magical door flying is a tiny bit odd but not in a Cressida Cowell fantasy/adventure! Xar, Wish and little Bodkin are escaping their Warrior and Wizard families along with their faithful retinue of assorted sprites, enchanted objects, snowcats, Crusher the giant and of course, Caliburn, the raven who was once the great wizard Pentaglion. However, it’s not just their respective parents and their supporters pursuing them but far worse, the Witches who are hovering above them, unseen but with the worst of intentions.

When Wish’s mother, Warrior Queen Sychorax, sets the forest alight all manner of chaos results. The ragged and tired children are facing the grimmest of narrow escapes until they are unexpectedly rescued by a giant bear. Although the giant bear is not really a bear but is actually Caliburn’s sister whom they are hoping to find and with whom they are hoping to seek shelter.  Perdita and her talking owl advisor  Hoola may not at first appear the best of saviours but the assorted band of refugees are taken into Pook’s Hill, the school for gifted wizards and are able to re-group, as well as contemplate a possible traitor in their midst.

Xar and Wish have a mission. They are determined to find a way to rid their world of Witches – and most especially the Witch-King, who is trapped in an iron ball but always posing a threat. Their sojourn at Pook’s Hill is not lengthy but enough to fortify them and give them both some skills and confidence with which to control their respective magical powers.

In the meantime, Queen Sychorax and Encanzo, Xar’s father and head of the Wizards, must reconcile their past as star-crossed lovers and unite to rescue their children.

It’s complex, fascinating, enchanting and chockers with exciting adventure and creepy characters.  I absolutely adore Cressida’s ability to combine the scary with the humorous, the seriousness with the silliness and of course, her unique illustrations and funky fonts all combine to create a really unique reading experience. No wonder she was chosen as the newest Children’s Laureate UK!

There really is no need to ‘sell’ Cressida’s novels and any readers who have already raced through the first two books in this new series will be leaping to grab this next instalment.

Highly recommended for your readers from around 10 years upwards.

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!

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!