Eyespy Emily Eyefinger, by Duncan Ball

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

My grandson is a huge fan of Duncan Ball’s Selby books, and is collecting them at a great rate. I have to say I have enjoyed those of the Selby books I have read too so I was interested to read this Emily Eyefinger book. Eyespy Emily Eyefinger is a compilation of 4 books which were previously published as books 5-8 in the Emily Eyefinger series.

Emily Eyefinger has an advantage over many of us. She has an extra eye, on the end of her finger. She discovers, and readers will too, that it can become very handy for solving problems.

Duncan Ball displays the same quirky humour in this book as in the Selby books. In the first story Emily introduces the reader to the ‘Mouse Code’ she and her friend Malcolm have devised. By cracking the mouse code, she learns her friend and his father, Professor Mousefinder, are in trouble. She convinces the soldiers to take her along on their rescue mission. Crawling through the jungle she finds her eyefinger comes in very handy.

Emily is a daring, enthusiastic, likeable and inventive main character who helps solve problems for those she cares about. A kind hearted girl, Emily helps her friend Janey who is in danger of losing the part she covets in a movie and helps her teacher, Ms Plump with the opera she is in. Emily manages to always be in the right place to help her friends or just when trouble is around.

For me it lacked a little of the charm and fun of the Selby books, though I’m sure avid Emily Eyefinger fans might not agree. And maybe I’m just a sucker for dog stories. However, I’m sure children will relate to Emily and enjoy her adventures. Readers from around 7 and upwards will enjoy this book and it would be a good introduction for anyone who has not met Emily Eyefinger before.

The end of the book contains an interesting anecdote from Duncan Ball which explains how Emily Eyefinger came to be.

Eyespy Emily Eyefinger, by Duncan Ball , Illustrated by Craig Smith
Angus&Roberston an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN 13:978 0 7322 8637 8

Emily Eyefinger and the City in the Sky, by Duncan Ball

Suddenly the prescriptions man screamed, ‘She’s got a gun! She’s got a gun! It’s the witch again!’
The lipstick woman froze. Slowly, she put her hands in the air.
‘Don’t shoot!’ she said. ‘Take the lipstick! It’s yours!’ With this, she dropped to the floor behind the counter.
‘Wait!’ Emily said. ‘It’s not a real gun. Look! It’s plastic!’

When Emily and her friend Janey dress as witches to practice for a play, they don’t realise the trouble it will cause. But why are the people at the pharmacy so scared of two girls in costume? Emily and the eye on the end of her finger are going to investigate.

Emily Eyefinger is a normal girl with a fairly extraordinary extra eye – on the end of her finger. It has all kinds of uses, especially for solving mysteries or getting out of scrapes, because with her extra eye Emily can see into all sorts of things that ordinary eyes can’t.

Emily Eyefinger and the City in the Sky is the tenth book of stories about Emily and her adventures, told by one of Australia’s best-loved children’s writers, Duncan Ball, perhaps best known for his stories of Selby, the talking dog. There are six self-contained stories in the book, perfect for independent reading by kids aged seven to ten.

Lots of fun.

Emily Eyefinger and the City in the Sky, by Duncan Ball
Angus & Robertson, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2006

Emily Eyefinger and the Puzzle in the Jungle, by Duncan Ball

‘Stop the horse!’ the woman yelled. ‘Pull harder!’
‘I-I can’t. There’s something wierd. It’s staring at me.’
‘But it’s facing the other way. How can it be staring at you?’
‘It’s got an eye back here. It’s looking right at me.’

Emily Eyefinger truly lives up to her name – she has an eye on her finger. Having an eye on the end of one your fingers could be problematic – but Emily finds it pretty helpful. She uses her extra eye to solve all sorts of mysteries.

In this, the ninth Emily Eyefinger book, she uses the finger to see out of the back half of a horse suit, catch a quiz cheat, and even to solve an ancient puzzle. Along the way she has lots of fun and adventure.

Emily Eyefinger is the invention of Duncan Ball, perhaps best known for his series about Selby, the talking dog. Ball’s sense of humour and his refusal to let the impossible stand in the way of a good story are what endears him to young readers. His simple language is accessible for struggling readers, without excluding more advanced readers.

Emily Eyefinger and the Puzzle in the Jungle is sure to please 8 to 10 year old readers.

Emily Eyefinger and the Puzzle in the Jungle, by Duncan Ball, illustrated by Craig Smith
Harper Collins, 2005