It all began one winter’s night, five hundred years ago, in a sleepy little village. Snow sprinkled the rooftops and pale wisps of smoke rose from a chimney or two.
The moon had just risen when a shooting star whipped across the sky, trailing a dazzling thread of green and red cinders.
500 years after a curse has been placed on the kingdom of Yurp, Matty Swink finds himself in a spot of bother. He’s a virtual prisoner as general dogsbody in a dodgy restaurant, but dreams of cooking glory. So when the King of Yurp announces a cooking contest, Matty is determined to win it. All he has to do is get Princess Meg to like his dish. But he soon discovers that winning the contest might not be the answer to his prayers.
Little Chef, Big Curse is a funny, action filled tale about cooking, curses and weird moon-rats with big appetites. Matty is a likeable, well-intentioned main character who is the victim of an equally unlikeable villain in the form of Fenella, a restaurateur with a penchant for unsavoury dishes made from whatever she can catch or scrape up. Matty’s story blends humour, adventure and fantasy. The occasional intrusions of the narrator take the reader into the story and add to the fun.
Suitable for middle and upper primary aged readers.
Little Chef, Big Curse, by Tilney Cotton
Available from good bookstores and online.
‘Ah, but I know the funniest joke in the world. Anyone who hears you tell it will fall in love with you. But maybe you should avoid jokes so early in a relationship. You might tell the wrong one.’
‘But telling jokes is all I can do. Tell me the best one in the world.’
‘It’s very powerful. I will tell you when you are old enough not to misuse it the seductive power of the joke.’
Adam and his Grandpa have lots of things in common – not least their sense of humour. Adam loves to tell jokes, and he loves the ones Grandpa shares with him. But when Grandpa dies suddenly Adam is left wondering about the untold joke Grandpa promised to tell him one day. As he struggles with the loss of his grandfather, he is also confronted by other problems, including his parents’ troubled marriage, his pesky little brother, and accidental displays of public nudity. Te biggest problem of all is his new girlfriend Samantha, and trying to figure out how relationships work.
Tigers on the Beach is both funny and poignant, cracking along through the highs and lows of teenage Adam’s world, populated by larger than life characters often in ridiculous situations. In one scene, Adam discovers he is infested with his brother’s beetle collection and his attempts to remove them result in him mooning a cafe full of diners. Other scenes are tough, including Adam and his family’s attempts to come to terms with losing Grandpa. Macleod’s deft touch means that the whole is an uplifting, smile-inducing read.
Tigers on the Beach, by Doug MacLeod
Allen & Unwin, 2014
Available from good bookstores or online.
They hadn’t gone down far into the dripping gloom when
kerlunk, kerlunk, kerlunk…
“Everybody stop!” whispered Gobo.
“Our shields! Our shields are bumping and kerlunking into our armour!
We must take them off and leave them. We don’t want to wake the troll!”
Deep inside the mountain, a giant troll sleeps with a pile of stolen treasure. The dwarves want their treasure back, but they have to be careful not to wake the troll. This isn’t easy when you’re carrying kerlunking shields and tinging swords, wearing creaky armour and your way is lit by sputtering torches. Will they get the treasure back without waking the troll?
Don’t Wake the Troll is a humorous picture book adventure, perfect for reading aloud to preschool aged children, who will love the sounds, the humour of the plot and the amazing illustrations. The latter manage to have plenty of colour even though the majority of the story takes place in an underground tunnel, and the dwarves and troll are delightfully comic in their expressions.
Lots of fun.
Don’t Wake the Troll, by Ben Kitchin & Ben Redlich
Koala Books, 2013
Available from good bookstores or online.
One day while out walking
by the sea,
I saw a sign saying,
BEWARE OF THE BEE.
YOU’LL GET STUNG
UNLESS YOU FLEE!’
So begins a slapstick adventure in which Andy flees from the bee, soon followed by his friend Terry D, and a Tea-Lady. Cross country they god, finally taking refuge in a tree – but still the bee finds them. It is the quick-thinking tea-lady who saves them all.
Andy G, Terry D, the Brave Tea-lady and the Evil Bee is a humorous, silly rhyming tale reminiscent of Dr Seuss’s A Fly Went By, but perhaps even sillier. First published as part of Griffiths’ longer book The Cat on the Mat is Flat, this new format features colour illustrations and a larger format, making it suitable for beginning readers.
Also available is Ed and Ted and Ted’s Dog Fred.
Andy G, Terry D, the Brave Tea-lady and the Evil Bee ISBN 9781742613017 and
Ed and Ted and Ted’s Dog Fred ISBN 9781742613000
Both by Andy Griffiths & illustrated by Terry Denton
Pan Macmillan, 2013
Available from good bookstores and online.
‘The Amazing Illustrated Floodsopedia’ is jam-packed with information about Transylvania Waters and its ruling family, the Floods. There are advertisements, stories, jokes, puns, poetry, inventions and more. Many of these are illustrated. Discover the life cycle of a wizard. Learn the Nalphabet. If you don’t know what a ‘preface’ is or a ‘postscript’, ‘Floodsopedia’ is here to enlighten you. You can even read your horoscope. And then, there’s bacon. Floodsopedia is a sturdy large format paperback, built to withstand multiple readings and referring-to and sharing with friends.
It is impossible for you to ever realise just what a MASSIVE honour it is for you to be able to buy this book. Although Queen Scratchrot warned that it would end in tears, because they are the kindest, greatest wizards who have EVER lived, the Floods have decided to shared their immense wisdomness, magic and bacon-orientated secrets and history with you, even though you are mere pathetic humans. Of course, they realise that because you are mere pathetic humans, lots of this book will be much too full of cleverness for you to understand, and by no means should you use this book without supervision and extremely strong pants.
CAUTION: This book contains words. Some of them have more than four letters and may improve your life in exciting and dramatic ways.
The Amazing Illustrated Floodsopedia is jam-packed with information about Transylvania Waters and its ruling family, the Floods. There are advertisements, stories, jokes, puns, poetry, inventions and more. Many of these are illustrated. Discover the life cycle of a wizard. Learn the Nalphabet. If you don’t know what a ‘preface’ is or a ‘postscript’, Floodsopedia is here to enlighten you. You can even read your horoscope. And then, there’s bacon. Floodsopedia is a sturdy large format paperback, built to withstand multiple readings and referring-to and sharing with friends.
If you are a fan of ‘The Floods’ you will know many of the characters featured in this Floodspedia, but not all. Perhaps you will learn things you didn’t know. If you are unfamiliar with the series, this will give you an introduction to the characters and their world. Like most kingdoms there is good and evil and it can be difficult to tell which is which (or witch is witch?). There is plenty to chuckle over, and when you’ve finished reading you can write a letter to Mr Thompson using the stamps featured and post it in the Transylvania Waters Post Office which is just over the nearby horizon. Recommended for a laugh.
The Amazing Illustrated Floodsopedia, Colin Thompson Random House 2012 ISBN: 9781742751047
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.
Convents are religious places
Peaceful and sublime
Full of nuns with solemn faces
Praying all the time.
Through the arches dark and lofty
Meek as they can be
All the nuns are treading softly –
All except for me.
So begins Sister Madge’s Book of Nuns a book of irreverent verse which has delighted young readers since its first edition in 1986. Sister Madge Mappin and her fellow sisters from the Convent of Our Lady of Immense Proportions are now back in a new hardcover picture book edition, ready to be discovered by a new generation of readers.
The rollicking poems are silly, irreverent and naughty – but they are laugh out loud funny, cleverly crafted by the talented Doug MacLeod, and brought to life in the illustrations of Craig Smith. As well as Sister Madge, there is Sister Stephanie, a diminutive nun who gets her own back on a store manager who teases her for her shortness, Sister Christabel who adds laughter to the convent with a whoopee cushion and Sister Isobel who innocently (or not) feeds the children to the animals on a zoo visit.
Suitable for primary aged readers right through to adults, it is wonderful to see this old favourite back in print.
Sister Madge’s Book of Nuns, by Doug MacLeod & Craig Smith
This edition Working Title Press, 2012
This book is avaialble in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
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, by Jennifer Rowe
Allen & Unwin, 2011
This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.
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
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
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