Trouble and the New Kid, by Cate Whittle, illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Apparently, dragons don’t exist.
Apparently, dragons are all in my imagination.
That’s what Nina Willis said, anyway, on the Monday before the Monday before last.

When a new kid named Nina arrives at school, Georgia soon learns that Nina doesn’t believe in dragons. Which makes Georgia sad, and a little bit cross, because her friend, Trouble is a dragon. Worse, though, when Trouble finds out someone doesn’t believe in him, he starts to change. Georgia needs to find a way to get Nina to believe.

Trouble and the New Kid is the third story featuring trouble and Georgia, but sits well on its own for those new to the series. Georgia is a wonderful heroine, warm hearted, but often in trouble at school. Trouble, too, is fun and the concept behind the series is wonderful.

Illustrated with greay scale illustrations by the whimsical Stephen Michael King, Trouble and the New Kid  will appeal to junior primary aged readers and anyone who loves whimsy.

Trouble and the New Kid, by Cate Whittle
Omnibus, 2017
ISBN 9781742990781

review by Sally Murphy, children’s author, reviewer and poet

Trouble and the Missing Cat by Cate Whittle ill Stephen Michael King

It turns out that our school Principal doesn’t live in a cupboard at the end of the corridor next to the teachers/ staffroom, even though Kyle Watson and Braedon Smythe both say so, and they should know. They are always being sent to see the Principal. As for me, Georgia, I’ve never made it beyond talking to the Deputy before, and she usually comes up to the classroom.

It turns out that our school Principal doesn’t live in a cupboard at the end of the corridor next to the teachers/ staffroom, even though Kyle Watson and Braedon Smythe both say so, and they should know. They are always being sent to see the Principal. As for me, Georgia, I’ve never made it beyond talking to the Deputy before, and she usually comes up to the classroom.

Georgia travels to school on the back of Trouble, a dragon. Trouble stole their house you see, and set it in the mountains. It was far easier for Georgia to get a lift to school than to try and set their house back on its block. But Trouble has been banned from school and the alternative ‘drop-off point’ is at the spot where their old house was. When Tibbles, the cat next door vanishes, Georgia is happy to help find him. She collects clues and eventually solves the mystery. Black and white illustrations appear on most openings.

Trouble is a dragon, and just like an oversize puppy, he is enthusiastic and not really aware of his size. Georgia is full of enthusiasm too, and sometimes surprised when her attempts to help out are misinterpreted. Their adventures are great fun and will have readers giggling. Fans of Anna Fienberg and Kim Gamble’s ‘Tashi’ stories will enjoy these tales. Recommended for independent readers or read-to for younger children.

Trouble and the Missing Cat, Cate Whittle ill Stephen Michael
King Scholastic 2016 ISBN: 9781742990774

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Trouble at Home by Cate Whittle Ill Kim Gamble

Ages and ages ago – about two weeks since next Thursday – a giant green dragon stole my baby brother, Godfrey.

Well, okay, the giant green dragon actually stole the house. Godfrey, who is only almost three, was inside watching TV.

I saw it all happen. An actual eyewitness. From two houses down and across the street. At thirty-two-and-a-half minutes past three o’clock. Exactly.

Gran was minding Godfrey while Mum fetched me – Georgia – and my other brother, Henry, from school. Gran wasn’t in the house when it was stolen though.

Ages and ages ago – about two weeks since next Thursday – a giant green dragon stole my baby brother, Godfrey.

Well, okay, the giant green dragon actually stole the house. Godfrey, who is only almost three, was inside watching TV.

I saw it all happen. An actual eyewitness. From two houses down and across the street. At thirty-two-and-a-half minutes past three o’clock. Exactly.

Gran was minding Godfrey while Mum fetched me – Georgia – and my other brother, Henry, from school. Gran wasn’t in the house when it was stolen though.

Georgia returns home from school one afternoon to witness her house being stolen by a big green dragon. No one else saw it though and she has a struggle to convince them that she knows what has happened. Dad keeps trying to convince the family to look on the bright side, but Mum in particular is finding it difficult to see any positives in losing her baby – and their house. Georgia sees clues everywhere but no one will listen to her. It becomes clear to her that she’s going to have to make plans of her own if her house and her baby brother are to be reunited with the rest of the family. Black and white illustrations begin each chapter and are scattered throughout.

Trouble at Home is the first in a new series of stories from Cate Whittle with illustrations by the late Kim Gamble, with three forthcoming instalments listed in the final pages. At first it’s not apparent whether the dragon is a figment of Georgia’s imagination, but as her investigations progress, it’s evident that this dragon does exist. There are parallels with Anna and Barbara Fienberg’s ‘Tashi’ series, not only because they share an illustrator. There is plenty of deadpan humour as the family dynamics and adventures are reflected through Georgia’s first person perspective.  Ideal for the newly-independent reader, chapters are short and there is plenty to giggle at.

Trouble at Home, Cate Whittle ill Kim Gamble
Omnibus Books 2016
ISBN: 9781742990767

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com