Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs, by Michael Gerard Bauer

Ishmael Leseur.
That’s me. It’s also the name of a frightening but as yet virtually unknown medical condition. And if you’re thinking it’s pretty stupid writing your own name down so you can remember it, then you’ve obviously never suffered from Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome. (Which I guess is hardly surprising, since I’m the world’s only known case.)

The summer break over, Ishmael Leseur is back at school and reunited with his friends Scobie, Prindabel, Bill and the Razzman for another big year. Maybe this year they’ll win the debating competition after a narrow miss last year. But first they have to navigate Miss Tarango’s poetry lessons and the school bully Barry Bagsley. There’s also the small matter of Ishmael’s crush on Kelly Faulkner. Unable to put a sensible sentence together in her presence, Ishmael thinks he has no chance, but Razza is determined to give him a helping hand.

Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs is a funny sequel to the highly successful Don’t Call Me Ishmael, though it stands alone enough for any reader who missed the first. Ishmael is a likeable main character and a wry first person narrator and his friends and their flaws create humour in all sorts of situations.

There are plenty of laugh out loud moments mixed with dashes of reality and some issues of substance. Most of all though it’s a feel good book, and the world needs plenty of those.

Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs, by Michael Gerard Bauer
Omnibus, 2007