Let me start by saying that this sucks.
‘What sucks?’ I hear you say.
No, actually that’s stupid. I don’t hear you say that. How could I?
For a start I don’t even know who you are, so what would you be doing here talking to me in my bedroom?
Andy Flegg does not want to write in a journal. but if he wants his parents to buy him an XBox, he has to write in it every day until his birthday, which is 124 days away. He has no idea what he is going to write about, but he desperately wants that XBox, so he’s going to do it. Luckily (in an unlucky kind of way), life is about to send lots of curve balls Andy’s way, so he’ll have plenty to write about – as the book’s title The Andy Flegg Survival Guide to Losing Your Dog, Your Dad and Your Dignity in 138 Days suggests. The journal might even help him get through it all.
While the use of a journal of diary written by a reluctant protagonist is not new, but it is a format which works, allowing the reader direct insight into the character’s thoughts and feelings. Of course it also allows for plenty of humour in the form of an unreliable narrator and plenty of misunderstandings. Readers will enjoy Andy’s voice, and also empathise with the pain of the quite traumatic events he experiences, a pleasing blend.
The Andy Flegg Survival Guide is suitable for middle and upper primary readers.
The Andy Flegg Survival Guide to Losing Your Dog, Your Dad and Your Dignity in 138 Days, by Mark Pardoe
Puffin Books, 2013
Available from good bookstores and online.
Matthew has what everyone else in his house considers to be an irrational fear of flushing the toilet, particularly at night. Now, since his tenth birthday, for some reason he needs to use the toilet every night. Every night he has the same dilemma – to flush, or not to flush. But things are getting worse. His aim, apparently, is one of them. But that’s just the beginning.
I’ve always hated flushing the toilet.
I know it’s mad but I can’t stand the noise and the sloshing water. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been convinced that a poo-covered sewer monster is going to come flying out of the toilet bowl and grab me with its slimy claws.
Okay, it’s stupid, I admit it. But be honest, are you really sure there’s nothing living in your toilet?
Matthew has what everyone else in his house considers to be an irrational fear of flushing the toilet, particularly at night. Now, since his tenth birthday, for some reason he needs to use the toilet every night. Every night he has the same dilemma – to flush, or not to flush. But things are getting worse. His aim, apparently, is one of them. But that’s just the beginning. Next is a story about a birthday present cat. Then there’s the chatterbox bird, and a found diary. There are twelve stories in this collection of weird and wonderful tales, each more spooky than the last. There are spooky cats, dunnies of doom, magic tricks, diabolical diaries and Santa solutions.
Do you like to be scared? This is the collection for you. There’s something to horrify everyone, and to give you nightmares. Imagine the worst nightmare you’ve ever had, where inanimate objects come to life and things return from the dead. Then take control and see what you are capable of. Will you overcome your fears, or is more still expected of you? Ideal for the reader who likes their adventures wild, and their stories weird and twisty-turning. Recommended for middle-primary and beyond. Just don’t read them at night time!
Not Bog Standard and Other Peculiar Stories, Mark Pardoe
Omnibus Books 2012
Reviewed by Claire Saxby