Amba was sitting beside Battie on the bench that goes in a circle around the big old tree. She said, ‘Hey Battie, did you hear what happened this morning?’
Battie was chewing on a chewy muesli bar. He had to take a big chewy blob out of his mouth and hold it in his hand so he could talk.
‘No, Amba, what happened this morning?’
‘Well,’ said Amba, ‘Max and Elsa had to go home from school early. Their dad came and picked them up from the front office and nobody knows why.’
Set in a primary school, ‘Little Lunch: The Off-Limits Fence’ is a collection of three short stories. In the first, ‘The Bench that goes in a Circle around the Big Tree’ offers a ‘Telegraph’ story about why two of their friends, Elsa and Max had to go home early. The explanations become wilder and wilder until someone realises they actually know the real story. It doesn’t stop the rumours though. The second story ‘The Equipment Shed’ offers a look at the opportunities offered by free play and the third ‘The Off-Limits Fence’ is narrated and acted out by a single child playing all sides of his football game, including that of the umpire. Black and white illustrations appear on every opening. There is a contents page and named character images.
The Off-Limits Fence is hilarious! Each story is entirely believable while being totally wild. It’s as if Katz and Vane peeked through a hole in a fence at a primary school. Every teacher, every parent, everyone who has ever had a chance to observe children at play will recognise the truth of these stories. Each story is short but rich in detail (including the gross bits). Readers of all ages will chuckle at the absurdity of the observations and language. Recommended for newly independent readers and anyone wanting a chuckle.
Little Lunch: The Off-Limits Fence, Danny Katz ill Mitch Vane
Black Dog Books 2015 ISBN: 9781742032375
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller