Chook Shed Snake, by Phil Cummings

A curious brown snake was slithering happily through the tall, crackle-dry grass by the creek.
Its tongue was flicking, it’s glassy eyes staring.

Dad is in trouble about the state of the chook yard, and he HAS to do something about it. But he doesn’t know that a big brown snake has come to check out the chook yard, too. When the kids spot the snake, Dad has to be brave to fix the problem.

Chook Shed Snake is an easy to read offering set in rural Australia and dealing with a situation many rural children will relate to – and which rural and city children alike will enjoy. Using action and humour, the story is both exciting and funny, a combination which will entice beginning readers.

Part of Omnibus’ new Mates series, Chook Shed Snake is illustrated in colour, with short chapters in a format likely to appeal to readers of all abilities.

Chook Shed Snake (Mates)

Chook Shed Snake (Mates), by Phil Cummings, ill by Greg Holfeld
Omnibus, 2009

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

Captain Congo and the Crocodile King, by Ruth Starke

‘If I’m not mistaken, a whiff of Africa on the breeze this morning, Pug.’
‘I thought it was grilled sardines.’
‘Not a cloud on the horizon.’
‘There is something on the horizon, Captain, look!’

Captain Congo and his offsider, Pug, are off on an African adventure, on behalf of ‘The Agency’. Their mission is to find a missing person, Professor Perky, last seen in Abyssinia. The pair set off, first boarding an African steamer. They are warned the cabin is a little rough. Pug is concerned about his bedding and the food, but Captain Congo takes it all in his stride. They arrive in Soddhu and search for clues and transport for the next stage of their journey. They discover the purpose of Perky’s expedition and set off into the jungle. After an unplanned swim with the crocodiles, they abandon their meandering and begin to search in earnest. It’s not long before they reach a village, and learn the fate of Professor Perky.

Captain Congo and the Crocodile King is a wonderfully exciting tale, in the style of the ‘grand adventure’ made popular by the Tin Tin series and also by the Asterix books. The main characters are clothed animals (gorilla and penguin), but the rest of the cast are human or animals-behaving-as-animals (particularly the mosquitoes. There is a delightfully wicked tongue-in-cheek quality to both the writing and the illustrations. Captain Congo is a wise and canny hero, while Pug does some of the ‘grunt’ work. He makes it clear that he’d prefer an adventure in a colder climate. Captain Congo and the Crocodile is a large format hardback, similar in size to Tin Tin books. Like these stories, ‘Captain Congo and the Crocodile King’ is sure to find a broad readership. The front cover features the heroes battling a very large crocodile and is sure to entice mid-primary readers. It would also suit less confident older readers. Recommended for those who enjoyed Tin Tin and Asterix, and for readers new to the genre.

Captain Congo and the Crocodile King, Ruth Starke ill Greg Holfeld
working title press 2008
ISBN: 9781876288914

The Super Parp-Buster, by Janeen Brian & Greg Holfeld

Slim Pickles and Jolly
invented each day
in a shed on a hill
that was far, far away.
But there wasn’t a road
on that hill way up high
so nobody came
or ever passed by.

Slim Pickles and Jolly are wonderful inventors – they spend their days making all sorts of wonderful things – knick-knacks and nobblers and thing –a-me-jigs – but the lack of a road to their shed means that no one has ever seen their inventions. So the clever pair build a road and soon the people come to admire their work. Unfortunately, with the people comes pollution – each car leaves a parp to pollute the air. Slim Pickles and Jolly need to get to work to build yet another invention – a Super Parp-Buster.

The Super Parp-Buster is a fun rhyming title which can be enjoyed as just a whimsical story, but also holds a message about pollution and about exploring ways of reducing its damaging impact. With a style reminiscent of Dr Seuss, author Janeen Brian uses plenty of creative, quirky words, which young listeners will love and which adult readers will find fun to read. The illustrations by Greg Holfeld also reminiscent of the Seuss books, are full of comic detail.

This one will be read and enjoyed time and time again.

The Super Parp-Buster!, by Janeen Brian and Greg Holfeld
Working Title Press, 2005