‘Surprise!’ Dad said as he turned off the engine. ‘Here we are.’
‘What do you call this:’ I asked, frowning at the horror outside the car. ‘I thought we were going to the zoo today.’
‘That’s right. And here we are.’
‘Dad, this isn’t the zoo,’ my twin sister, Helen, chimed in. ‘I’ve had a school excursion at the zoo, and I’m sorry, but this … isn’t … it!’
Dad was right – it was a surprise, and not a very nice one. But my sister was also right – this wasn’t the zoo. All the excitement I’d felt about seeing the wild animals and the birds of prey and the incredibly venomous reptiles, all the anticipation of the past couple of days had evaporated in an instant.
‘Dad, you’re joking, right?’ I said.
The family day out that Charlie was looking forward to is now looking less promising. Instead of the proper zoo, Charlie, his twin sister Helen, their baby sister Abby and their parents have arrived at a petting zoo full of farm animals. The only ones who are happy about it are his parents and Abby. Charlie and Helen slip off by themselves to see if anything can be salvaged of their day. And that’s when they meet an called Capone. The day begins to spiral rapidly downhill. Somehow Capone escapes his paddock, and according to Farmer Phil, it’s Charlie’s fault. His efforts to help recapture Capone produce more chaos, until Charlie is sure things can get no worse. But of course, they can. And do.
The best intentions are often unequal to the challenge of reality. And thank goodness! Where would fiction be without catastrophes? Spitting Imageis a new title from Walker Books ‘Lightning Strikes’ series. This series features short fast-paced stories that tip frequently into well-intentioned disaster. With hilarious results. Charlie’s efforts to help seldom turn out well, but bless him, he keeps trying. Upper primary readers will empathise with Charlie as he lurches from one misunderstanding to another, while apparently being outsmarted by a relative of a camel. And a young girl who witnesses every one of his failures and feels compelled to comment. Indignity on indignity. A fun read for upper primary readers.
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.