Sucked Out, by John Parker

Monday. 8.45 am.
First assembly for the winter term at Granley High.
I was sitting with Zainey when he leaned over to tell me something. ‘Hey, Dan!’
I knew it was going to be a joke because he was grinning. It was an ugly sight. Then his glasses fell off and landed on the floor.
‘Your spectacles, young man,’ I said, tossing them back. ‘Now, what did you wish to impart to my superior intelligence?’

Dan and Zainey are back in another adventure with the eyeball. This is the eyeball that caused them trouble in Sucked In, although Sucked Out works just fine as a standalone read. In Sucked Out the thought-to-be-destroyed eyeball reappears at school assembly. Havoc reigns when Grimmo, maths teacher, keels over on stage. The eyeball is loose at school and it’s after blood. Zainey is obsessed by the eyeball, despite the fact that it’s creepy and has caused heaps of trouble in the past. It cost him lots of money and he wants it back. Dan convinces Zainey that he needs help and together the pair, with a little help from Caro and the school cat, Fleabag, set about capturing the eyeball.

Sucked Out is a new title from Walker Book’s Lightning Strikes series. With fast-paced short novels, this series is designed for upper primary, early secondary readers, particularly reluctant readers. Dan is engaging and dry as narrator. He’s keen to help save his friend from the eyeball, but he’s not above a joke or two on the way. He’s a convincing young teenager as is his friend, Zainey, who has finally had a growth spurt but is still struggling to establish his identity. Caro, their friend, casts about on the edge of their friendship, a grounded, more mature character, who helps when their efforts fail. A fun read.

Sucked Out, John Parker
Walker Books 2010
ISBN: 9781921529689

Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Sucked In, by John Parker

I took the eye out of my pocket and stared at it.
It wasn’t made out of glass, like a normal doll’s eye. But it wasn’t plastic either. And it wasn’t rubber.
I sniffed it. My hooter came up with the smell you get when you sit in the front seat of a brand-new car. But there was something else, too – something down, like the smell of rotten grass.
Whatever it was made of, I didn’t like the way the eye gazed at me.

When Dan finds out that his friend Zainey has sold his much-prized mountain bike to buy an eye, Dan thinks Zainey is crazy. After all, two hundred and twenty dollars for a fake eye HAS to be a rip off. But when the eye arrives in the mail, Dan soon realises it is no joke. There is something about the eye that unnerves him, and when the eye tries to attach itself to Dan, he realises that the eye is no joke. This eye is after blood.

Sucked In is a funny, slightly spooky tale of an out of control eye and a boy who will do whatever it takes to feel he belongs. Zainey is a short boy who suffers from low self-esteem, and is thus willing to try anything to feel a part of things – even if he has to resort to adding an extra eye so he can see what’s going on around him. Whilst the story is humorous, its messages about friendship and self-belief are important ones.

Part of Walker Books’ new Lightning Strikes series, Sucked In is attractively packaged and the shorter length and accessible text size and presentation will make it appealing to readers of all abilities.

Sucked In, by John Parker
Walker Books, 2008

Desi Detective Solves a Mystery, by John Parker

Desi Detective is at home eating a ham and salad roll when her phone rings. Sharif Shopkeeper has a very important mystery for her to solve. Someone has stolen all the free jellybeans from Sharif’s jar! Desi is straight on the case and, in no time at all, has followed the clues and located the greedy thief.

Desi Detective Solves a Mystery is one of four titles in the Buzz Town series from brand new publisher Ibis. This one has the feel of a retro comic book, with its slapstick humour and narrative style. Desi carries a Catch-a-Burglar magnifying glass as she heads off to catch Lickface Larry, the bad-guy who quickly sees the error of his ways.

These simple stories are accompanied by suggestions for parents to help get children involved before, during and after reading and supported by online activities and printables at the Ibis website.

Desi Detective Solves a Mystery, by John Parker, illustrated by Russell Tate
Ibis, 2004