Tag Archives: Humour

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables – Tim Harris….and Mr Bambuckle himself!!!

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Tim Harris, illus by James Hart
Random House
Released September 2017
Paperback
ISBN 9780143785859
RRP $14.99

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!

 

 

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The Getaway : Diary of a Wimpy Kid #12 – Jeff Kinney

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Penguin Australia

9780143782797

November 7, 2017

Puffin

224 pages

RRP $14.99

 

Well as if there isn’t always enough going on for the Heffleys on a regular day-to-day basis their holiday plans go completely awry and full on pandemonium ensues!

 

The Heffley parentals have decided that they are going to completely avoid the stress of the approaching festive season along with the miserable weather and book a special family trip. Their choice is the same resort at which they spent their honeymoon and of which they have such fond memories. But as we know things never run smoothly for this family and from lost luggage to invasive giant spiders to sunburn this was never going to be the stuff of which dreams are made.

 

And as usual from Greg’s point of view, he is the most put upon out of the entire family. While his folks can escape and big brother Rodrick dodges any form of restriction, Greg is left holding the baby so to speak and spends more time chasing little Manny than enjoying any kind of resort action.

 

The format of this series never grows tired and this one has already been snapped up by one of my eager readers. Those who want a light read and lots of laughs will get much enjoyment from it.

Highly recommended for readers from around eight years upwards.

 

Take a peek inside here.

 

The City of Secret Rivers – Jacob Sager Weinstein

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Walker Books Australia

August 2017

ISBN: 9781406368857

RRP $19.99

For children who are keen on fantastical adventures this first volume in a new trilogy will provide a thrilling subterranean ride through the underbelly of London.

Hyacinth Hayward and her mother have just arrived to live in the country of their forebears and Hyacinth hates it already. One of the most annoying and stupid things to her mind is the fact that there is no mixer tap on the bathroom basin so using her practical plumbing skills she fixes that up in a pet of temper. Unwittingly she unleashes a random but significant drop of water, is grabbed by an eccentric neighbour, Lady Roslyn, and whirled down into the sewers of London.

There she encounters the history of the hidden rivers and their magical properties, a vast array of odd, scary, helpful and villainous characters (gotta love a huge pig in a swimsuit who converses via notes!)  and a plot to harness the ancient powers that have long been guarded.

At times hilarious and always thrilling this is an adventure for children who not only enjoy the dash of magic but have an interest in history.  Certainly I enjoyed finding out more about what exactly lies underneath this sprawling city and the author’s end-notes and photographs are equally fascinating.

Highly recommended for readers from around eight years up.

The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome – Katrina Nannestad

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Harper Collins

Imprint: ABC Books

October 2017

ISBN: 9780733338175

RRP: $16.99

Maybe it’s because spring is here (my favourite season) or maybe it is just the stars aligning but I have been so blessed to be sent so many absolutely delightful books to review lately. This is just gorgeous and I love it.

Young Freja is not your average child. She’s not used to people or social situations or even making conversation. It’s not because she’s an only child. It’s because for all of her ten years she has spent nine months of each year with her zoologist mother Clementine in the wildness of Arctic regions as Clem studies the wildlife. Freja revels in these annual expeditions and the beautiful discoveries her mother shares with her. It is only for three months of each year that she is forced to try to adapt to ‘civilisation’. Each Christmas period the pair returns to England where Clem lectures, raises funds and prepares for the next trip and Freja is endured by a parade of babysitters all of whom find her odd and ‘difficult’.

This year things are different. Clem tells Freja that she is ill and she must go to Switzerland alone for her treatment. There will be no trip until she is well.  Freja is devastated – not just because of the trip but the trauma of being separated from her mother, not to mention the horror of ‘babysitters’. Enter Tobias Appleby and Finnegan his large hairy dog. Clem explains to Freja that Tobias is an old and dear friend and he will take great care of her. And so he does, in a completely bewildering and eccentric way to which Freja immediately responds. Their bond develops quickly though not without hiccups.

Yes, we can make assumptions here however nothing will be revealed so early in this new series.

Of course, the most exciting thing is when Freja (in one of her confused and shy moments) expresses a desire to see Rome and of course! For Tobias that’s simple as can be and soon the three of them (Finnegan as well) are acclimatising to the Roman way of life. For Freja it is a revelation. She discovers hitherto unknown social graces in herself and finds friends – friends!

This is a wonderful story about family, friendship and identity and I look forward to the next in the series with anticipation.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.

 

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow– Jessica Townsend

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Hachette

October 2017

9780734418074 | RRP $16.99

When you receive a proof copy of an upcoming debut novel about which the publisher says stuff like ‘sold by eight-way auction’ and ‘film rights pre-empted’ you can assume it’s going to be a cracker.

And it is that indeed. Written by Jessica Townsend (Sunshine Coast! Yay!) this is going to be a phenomenon and garner readers from young to old.

Morrigan is a cursed child. These children have been born on the Eventide of a new age and their curse is to die on the next Eventide of a new age.  For all her almost-eleven years Morrigan has lived with the cruel rejection of everyone around her including her family. But things are about to change for her in the most spectacular way. Finding herself at Bid Day where children who have completed prep school are sought after by education bidders, to be trained up in whatever calling, Morrigan is startled to receive bids of her own. Who on earth would bid on a cursed child?

Before this puzzle can progress further, Eventide is upon her and so is one of the bidders.  The flamboyant and charismatic Jupiter North appears at her home and after much debate with her family, whisks her away in the nick of time as they are chased by the Hunt of Dark and Shadow pursuing Morrigan, in expectation of her death.  Jupiter’s rescue takes Morrigan to Nevermoor where she is, for the first time in her life, made to feel welcome by many (but not all) and that she could have a purpose.

She is set to work to pass the trials required to become a member of the Wunder Society and this is a fraught experience for her in many ways, but always with the support of new friends.  Not all is well though. The mysterious Mr Jones (another of her initial bidders) keeps appearing at random, other trial contenders are contemptuous of her lack of skill and a nasty law enforcement agent is determined to oust her on grounds of being an illegal immigrant.

This is filled with humour, charm, love, despair, spookiness and good fun. Although it took me a week to get through it that was only because I was so tired each night I only managed a few chapters at a time. In holiday time it would have been consumed in one go.

 I have already been promoting it to my readers from around ten years up and even my big girls in Book Club are keen to get their hands on it.

Be warned – this is going to be a ‘must have’ and you would do well to make sure it’s on your shopping list.

Highly recommended for all readers from middle primary upwards!

Wolfie: an Unlikely Hero – Deborah Abela/Connah Brecon

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Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780143781509

May 1, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $24.99

One thing I’ve learned in my years of being a teacher-librarian is that all kids, big and little, love fractured fairy tales.

Wolfie is fed up with fairy tales promoting the nonsense that wolves are the bad guys. He’s determined to put the record straight. After all, he’s really a sweet creature and he is ready to prove himself so by rescuing a princess because that’s what heroes do!

What he hasn’t quite reckoned with is that annoying the book’s narrator is not likely to provide him with a satisfactory outcome and that gives the reader a load of laughs. Wolfie tries to rescue Rapunzel – but she has a screaming fit at the very sight of him and ends up rescuing herself (as all great princesses do!). With that disaster behind him he’s swooped up by a passing dragon and oh oh, this is certainly not the heroic ending Wolfie had imagined!

Deb Abela’s text is super funny and lots of interesting fonts give it real oomph. The illustrations are likewise very humorously done and discerning readers will get a real giggle out of some of the visual jokes.

A great addition to your collection for all those units on fairy tales – traditional or otherwise.

Highly recommended for readers from around six years upwards.

Little Lunch series – Danny Katz/Mitch Vane

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Walker Books

I said earlier today that I’m not that across kids’ TV but this is one show I’ve watched with Miss K and we both think it is very funny.  She, like other kids, because she thinks the antics of the kids and their interactions a real hoot and me, because I reckon over my years of teaching I’ve had all of those kids in my class at one time or another. I think the children’s acting is superb and poor Mrs Gonsha as she swings between kind and caring and completely frazzled is just hilarious.

So just to extend the fun, Danny Katz and Mitch Vane have transformed the episodes into these great books each containing three stories and illustrations. A lot can happen in just fifteen minutes! Read and find out now!

Triple the Trouble

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ISBN: 9781925381825
Imprint: Black Dog Books
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $12.99
New Zealand RRP: $14.99

Why is Debra-Jo so stressed out about a mysterious truck in the school grounds? Is it because she has to hide something small and crawly? And who on earth would imagine that Rory of all people would be put in charge of the class during a wet break? And then there’s Tamara starting a game of kiss-chasey just so she can kiss Battie? What the…?

Triple the Laughs

1497404269666

ISBN: 9781921977398
Imprint: Black Dog Books
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $12.99
New Zealand RRP: $14.99

Atticus is always so sweet and so nerdy and also really, really smart so why is throwing away his playlunch every day? It must have something to do with those weird smelly green things his YaYa is putting in his lunchbox. Battie, being batty as usual, is running around finding superhero things to do while dressed as his imaginary hero Stretcho (that is the weirdest superpower outfit I’ve ever seen and always makes me laugh!). Then Melanie, who never does anything wrong seemingly, is suddenly ‘Germblocked’ for no apparent reason.

These playlunch sized stories are perfect for kids wanting an engaging and amusing read in short bursts. The series is now up to fifteen so if you haven’t started collecting them yet, you should. They will fly off the shelves for your readers from around 8 upwards.

 

 

Supertato Run, Veggies, Run! – Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet

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Simon & Schuster

May 2017

ISBN 781471121036

RRP $14.99

Supertato just makes me laugh so much every time! With the corny veggie puns (see what I did there?) and the crazy antics of the produce section at night, these are sure-fire winners with younger readers. The big bold illustrations also help create the right atmosphere of fun!

As Supertato encourages the other vegetables to be fit – you know, healthy vegetables, right? – he comes up with the brilliant plan of a Sports Day.

Of course Evil Pea (and given that I detest peas I’m so glad he’s the wicked one) has plans to sabotage the race day and enters his friend Gloria, seemingly a watermelon but really a robotmelon!

Just as Evil Pea is convinced he’s won the day with Gloria scooping all the prizes, Supertato announces the final event – the swimming race. Crackle! Zap! And that’s the end of Gloria’s winning streak.  Naturally Supertato makes sure Evil Pea is suitably punished and returns him to the freezer in no uncertain terms.

These are always so humorous and ideal for read-alouds. Highly recommended for little readers from around 5 upwards or just to have a giggle as a bigger person!

Collins Modern Classics: The Bagthorpe Saga – Ordinary Jack – Helen Cresswell

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9780008211677

Harper Collins Australia

            ISBN: 9780008211677

           ISBN 10: 0008211671

           Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

           On Sale: 01/05/2017

           List Price: 14.99 AUD

First published in 1977 this is the introductory volume in a new modern classics series from Harper Collins. The Bagthorpes are, to say the least, one of the most eccentric families you will encounter in a book.  It’s very English and very funny with overtones of the even older Nancy Mitford books with a very middle to upper class family who are all pretty much bonkers.

Father, mother, grandparents, aunt and uncle, and a swag of children who are all pretty much above average – and then there’s Jack who is quite ordinary and in his own mind, inferior.

With the help of his Uncle Parker, who is easily one of the maddest in the family, Jack sets about to impress his family by becoming a prophet, seeing visions and making predictions.  As you can imagine this is quite disconcerting for the family and is not the easiest of deceptions to pull off successfully.

With a pyromaniac four year old cousin, an attractive but non-English speaking Danish au pair, a crusty old daily who is as useful as ‘a hedgehog’ according to Mr Bagthorpe and some crazy antics, this is a laugh a minute.

Suffice to say that in spite of its age, it is every bit as funny as any contemporary family story and will no doubt appeal to many readers who are looking for a simple humorous read.

Highly recommended for readers both boys and girls from around 8 years upwards.

Friday Barnes 7: Bitter Enemies – Rachel Spratt

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9780143784197

Penguin Random House

9780143784197

July 31, 2017

Random House Australia Children’s

RRP $15.99

 

Beginning of term at Highcrest Academy has never been so dreary and desolate. Melanie and Ian are both depressed and missing their quirky best friend Friday, who has been whisked off to Switzerland to be with her family and attend Europe’s most elite school.  Adding to their misery, the start of term assembly sees the announcement of the school’s anniversary celebrations and the return of four previous headmasters. Good grief! Surely one headmaster is enough for any mortal?

However, they have not reckoned on the surprise return of the school’s most dedicated nerdy sleuth who appears dramatically at the doors of the assembly hall ready to deal with anything that might just foul up the anniversary celebrations. And just as well, the students have been warned to be on their best behaviour but apparently no one told the former headmasters the same thing. You have no idea how much havoc can be created by embittered former educators – wait, perhaps you do!

As usual, Friday is on hand to solve the mysteries, explain the inexplicable and generally get everyone out of trouble although not without finding herself in a pickle at the same time.

Old and new characters make their appearances and really you have to love Mrs Cannon, the world’s laziest English teacher – I wonder what might happen if I tried that approach?

These are such fun to read and Friday’s idiosyncrasies are so goofy as to be endearing. The solid friendships are a great feature of this series, proving you don’t need to be pattern made to fit in.

There is also the pathos as we find out more about Friday’s ghastly family and oh oh, the shocker at the end – what will happen to Friday when…. Oops, never mind, you’ll find out.

These are always high in demand in my library and I know the readers are waiting on this new one impatiently.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.