Abacus Aardvark and the Arctic Adventure, by MJ Faranda

Now I well keell the lemmeeng!’
Slamming a perspex box on the demonstration bench, Professor Malonvenski whistled a tuneless ditty and proceeded to adjust the gas taps.
At the sight of the tiny rodent’s pink paws clawing the transparent walls of its cage, Abacus Aardvark wondered, once again, why the school had hired such a terrible man to be their new science teacher…the new science teacher had subjected the class to a series of bizarre experiments. He had tested radio frequencies that burst Billy Gudding’s eardrum, injected something into Ishmael Brimms that caused him to make bleating sounds for a week, and locked Daisy Little inside the walk-in freezer until she had a frostbitten nose.

Abacus Aardvark likes the quiet life. It’s enough that he lives with parents so wrapped up in their individual passions that they hardly notice him, now he has lost the lovely gentle science teacher and instead has to endure the terror induced by the crazy new science teacher. When Abacus is in trouble and his fashion designer mother Zelda, is called in, Abacus is torn between making sure his mother remembers to go to the meeting with Professor Malovenski and hoping that she won’t get him in even more trouble. But unexpectedly, his mother and the Professor get on famously and before he knows it, he’s off to the Arctic with a stowaway lemming, and his father Zachary, who is intent on righting the wrongs imposed by being at the wrong end of the alphabet. With self-absorbed parents, a crazy professor and angry crew, Abacus is soon a long way from the quiet life he craves.

Abacus Aardvark and the Arctic Adventure is a rollicking adventure from the quiet life to the high seas and all the way to the North Pole. Most of the adults in this adventure range from simply useless through to thoroughly wicked. Only when they reach the Arctic does Abacus find help. And even then, the help is not quite what he expected. He has to call on his own resources to keep everyone safe. The pace is relentless, with circumstances constantly worsening. A healthy dose of humour provides a release valve for the reader and keeps the story grounded. There are environmental themes and the cost and single-mindedness of those consumed by greed. Recommended for confident mid- to upper-primary readers. The ending also suggests strongly that there is another Abacus Aardvark adventure in the pipeline.

Abacus Aardvark and the Arctic Adventure, M. J. Faranda
Omnibus Books 2011
ISBN: 9781862918818 review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author