Love, Honour and O'Brien, by Jennifer Rowe

When Holly Love leaves Sydney bound for her new life in the Blue Mountains, she has no idea just how different her life is about to become. She thinks she’s heading for wedded bliss with her fiancé Andrew. But Andrew has vanished, taking Holly’s heart and all of her savings. All she has is a dodgy car, forty dollars cash and a burning desire of revenge…

Holly Love’s life fell apart on a Monday. Somehow this made the whole thing seem even more surreal. Being an optimistic sort of person, Holly had always thought of Mondays as new beginnings, days of promise.

When Holly Love leaves Sydney bound for her new life in the Blue Mountains, she has no idea just how different her life is about to become. She thinks she’s heading for wedded bliss with her fiancé Andrew. But Andrew has vanished, taking Holly’s heart and all of her savings. All she has is a dodgy car, forty dollars cash and a burning desire of revenge. She is going to track Andrew down and make him pay.

But as she tries to figure out what has happened, Holly’s life goes from the helpless to the bizarre. First the investigator she hires turns up dead, then she’s dragged in to a mystery involving a missing person, an Elvis impersonator and a giant snake. And what’s with the black four wheel drive that seems to be following her wherever she goes?

Love, Honour and O’Brien is a funny, clever mystery with a blend of the bizarre, the sinister and the just plain funny. Holly is a slightly naïve but determined main character, and the new friends she makes are an entertaining bunch. As an accidental detective, Holly does a pretty good job of figuring out what’s going on, though she relies on a bit of luck and the help of her new friends to get her out of trouble when things get heavy.

This is a good fun read, with hints that there may be more stories to come featuring Holly Love.

Love, Honour and O'Brien

Love, Honour and O’Brien, by Jennifer Rowe
Allen & Unwin, 2011
ISBN 9781742375830

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

So Feral, by J. A. Mawter

This book really doesn’t need a review – the title says it all. So Feral is, in fact, feral. Which is why kids will love it. While adults may squirm and feel more than a little queasy, kids will laugh out loud and just have to share the stories with their friends.

Following on from the success of her earlier title, So Gross, author J.A. Mawter has seven new tales to share. From globby bits of meat pie coming out of kids’ noses, to a record attempt for the world’s biggest fart, every page is filled with feral kids doing feral things. Eight to twelve year old readers will love it.

So Feral, by J. A. Mawter
Angus and Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins), 2002

Cosmo Cooper and the Lemons of Lockbarrel, by Alan Sunderland

The little town of Lockbarrel is the leading supplier of lemons. Everyone in town works at growing lemons. So, when the lemon crop is wiped out by a mysterious wind, there is widespread dismay. How will they eat? How will they buy all the things necessary for their survival?

The only solution is to send someone for help. When a name is pulled out from a hat, it turns out that this someone will be Cosmo Cooper. Not sure what he will do, Cosmos sets out in the village truck with $2.63 in his pocket. If he doesn’t succeed, the villagers will fail.

So why does Cosmo end up sneaking in to the Borrow Brother’s basement late one night with his new friend Professor Squillocks? Will this help solve Lockbarrel’s problem? Only time will tell.

Cosmo Cooper and the Lemons of Lockbarrel is delghtfully different story from author Alan Sunderland. Combining humour with adventure,cleverness, and plain silliness, it is almost as delicious as Lockbarrel’s lemonade.

Perfect for 8 to 10 year old readers.

Cosmo Cooper and the Lemons of Lockbarrel, by Alan Sunderland
Scholastic, 2002.

So Gross, by J. A. Mawter

How would it be if farts came out coloured blue, so that everyone could see – in the middle of assembly? And how would it be if a boy swallowed fish eyes and blue vein cheese and pigs’ hearts and lambs brains and then vomited all over the floor at McDonald’s? What about a boy with a collection of boogie, all labelled and nicely displayed? Sound a bit gross? Well, that’s the idea.

So Gross, by J. A. Mawter, is a collection of stories sure to make the most with it adult say “ewwww” very loudly, but equally sure to make young readers laugh out loud. From booger collections to blue farts and techni-coloured vomit, and lots more, kids aged 8 to 12 will find plenty to laugh about and share with their friends.

Each story in So Gross is several chapters long, so that kids can satisfy themselves with a well-developed read in each sitting. This format makes the bok ideal for reluctant readers (especially boys), who will love both the subject matter and the sense of achievement with actually finishing each story.

A fun book.

So Gross, by J.A. Mawter
Angus & Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins), 2001

Circus Berzerkus, by Jonathan Harlen

Ever read a book narrated by an elephant? What about a DEAD elephant? Well, here is your chance, because Circus Bezerkus, the latest funny offering from Jonathan Harlen, is in fact narrated by the ghost of a circus elephant.

Before his death, Rajah (the elephant) was very close to one Marvin Gumbo, son of the owner of Circus Bezerkus, and the only boy in the world who can kiss his own bottom.

When Rajah dies, he finds himself a ghost, who must work to save Marvin and the whole circus from an untimely demise at the hands of another ghost, that of Dancing Dan, the incredible lion-tamer, who lost his head when he rollerskated over the tail of one of his own lions.

Full of silliness and circus stereotypes, this is a book which will have kids aged 8 to 12 laughing aloud. Adults will enjoy it too.

Jonathan Harlen was born in New Zealand and now lives in New South Wales with his wife and three children. His many books include Brain Scam and The Cockcroach War. Circus Bezerkus is set to be a similar success.

Circus Bezerkus, by Jonathan Harlen
Allen and Unwin, 2002

Space Pirates on Callisto, by Jackie French

Sam’s friend Cherry is bored. It is school holidays and nothing exciting is happening. That’s because nothing exciting ever seems to happen on Callisto. Everyone there is so nice to everyone else. And that’s the way Sam like sit – she’s had enough adventures in her life. But Cherry wants more. She wants to have adventures like her hero Hildegard has in the adventures novels she reads.

In the absence of such adventures, Cherry and Sam decide to go camping, and it is while they are camping that Cherry’s big chance for adventure arrives.

Space pirates land on Callisto, looking for the Golden Queen, a treasure they believe is here on Callisto. The pirates are mean, and what’s worse, they have taken Sam and Cherry hostage – refusing to release them until they have the Golden Queen. Sam and Cherry have no idea what this Golden Queen is. They are at the mercy of the two pirates, their two-headed dog Snarkle, and the goodness of their fellow residents of Callisto, who say they will hand the Golden Queen over, just as soon as it’s ready.

Space Pirates on Callisto is Jackie French’s second book about the fabulous world of Callisto, where the most important decision to be made is whether to have your pineapple pizza with or without the onions. Kids will love this hilarious world filled with chocolate peanut muffins, giant hamburgers and incredible fresh produce.

Space Pirates on Callisto is a Blue Level Tadpole for independent readers, from Koala Books. Jackie French’s earlier title Café on Callisto was the winner of the Aurealis Award for Children’s Short Fiction (2001).

Space Pirates on Callisto, by Jackie French, illustrated by Sarah Baron
Koala Books, 2002

The Real Facts of Life

FACT: Weekends and holidays go faster than schooldays.
FACT: Dads always read in the toilet – for ages and ages.
FACT: Sisters always try to get you into trouble.

Max loves to collect facts like these. He writes them down in a little notebook. But one busy weekend he overlooks the biggest fact of all.

This delightful children’s book by West Australian author Geoff Havel documents Max’s weekend as he collects facts and tries to figure out what’s going on between his parents. His mother is acting weird and his father is fussing over her. His sister Jess keeps giving him “I know something you don’t know” looks.

It’s a pretty busy weekend for Max – washing dishes, mad dashes to hospital to stitch up his head, Sunday lunch with Grandma. And heaps of facts to gather. Will he find time to solve the mystery?

The Real Facts of Life will appeal to boys and girls aged 10 and over. Even Mum and Dad will laugh at this one.

The Real Facts of Life by Geoff Havel
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2001

Ca-a-r Ca-a-a-a-r

Rarely is a picture book written which will have the adult reader laughing aloud at its humour. Ca-a-r Ca-a-a-a-r, by Geoff Havel is, fortunately, one such uniquely funny offering, which will be loved by both parents and children for its simple wit.

The premise of the book is simple – a group of animals share their reactions to an accident they witness. But this is not another talking animals story. Instead, Havel cleverly uses the animals’ sounds to tell the story. So, the skidding of the car is echoed by the parrot’s “Screech!” and the arrival of the ambulance heralded by the donkey’s “Eeyore, eeyore.” The bright and comical illustrations of Peter Kendall make a gorgeous complement to Havel’s text.

This is a book which will be read and enjoyed many times, with children quickly learning to ‘help’ the reader out with the animal sounds and even the narration. A must-have classic.

Ca-a-r Ca-a-a-a-r, by Geoff Havel
Published by Sandcastle Books, Fremantle Arts Centre Press children’s book imprint (1996).

Chloe's Wish

Chloe’s family tell her that wishes aren’t real – even her little brother Eli tells her they’re ‘kid’s stuff’. But Chloe is sure that wishes float around in the air like invisible bubbles. All she has to do is wish at the right time and pop the wish bubble will burst and come true.

So Chloe isn’t as surprised as you might expect when she wishes for a fairy godmother to help her decide what to wish for, and pop, whizz, a fairy godmother appears in a cloud of pink and mauve fuzzy stuff. What she is surprised to learn is that some fairy godmothers aren’t exactly expert at granting wishes.

The tale of Chloe’s Wish, by Diana Chase, will delight six to ten year old readers. They will laugh out loud at the antics of Gloria, Chloe’s fairy godmother, and thrill at the idea that wishes really can come true. The illustrations of Heather Himmel also add a special touch to the book.

Chloe’s Wish, by Diana Chase
Published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2001

Just Crazy

Hey kids, do you bounce so high on your bed that you hit your head on the ceiling? Do you look in the mirror and see a crazy maniac staring at you? Do you like reading stories about cute animals getting pulverised by machines? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you will love Just Crazy!, by Andy Griffiths. Even if you answered no, chances are you’ll still enjoy this book.

These nine crazy stories will have you shaking your head, screwing up your nose, groaning out loud, but, most of all, laughing out loud. Journey with Andy as he figures out how (not) to remove a bandaid from his face with a vacuum cleaner, how to get his homework back out of his dog when he’s just eaten it, how to get out of a wheelie bin and many more valuable life skills.

These hilarious stories come with FREE – yes, completely free – page numbers and cool cartoon illustrations from well known Australian illustrator Terry Denton.

Parents, don’t worry, this book will not harm your kids, because they are of course way too sensible to copy the things that Andy does. Aren’t they? This really is an excellent read for kids aged 9 to 14 years, and would be a good offering for a reluctant reader.

Just Crazy!, by Andy Griffiths
Published by Pan Books, 2000

ISBN 9780330362153

This book can e purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.