All in all, life in Hills Village with the regular people wasn’t too bad.
But here’s the kicker: if life among the regular people wasn’t so bad, why did it feel like there was a great big something hovering just out of reach? Why did I keep checking my email for messages from “out t
here”? Why did I have itchy feet?
Why wasn’t I happy?
Rafe Khatchadorian’s life is going okay, so he should be happy. – but he finds himself wishing for something interesting to happen. So when a letter turns up unexpectedly, inviting him to an art camp in Australia, he jumps at the chance. Soon he’s Down Under learning all kinds of things, including how awesome it is to be on so
lid ground, why you should never trust a bearded bushman, and that you should never EVER play fetch with a crocodile.
Part of the best selling Middle School series, Going Bush is the second title in the series set in Australia. and coauthored by James Patterson and Australian author Martin Chatterton. In this adventure Rafe experiences the outback as part of a young artist camp where he and his friends come up against an angry croc, the ravages of outback camping, and a mystery surrounding a blue diamond.
Young readers will enjoy the blend of humour and adventure.
Middle School: Going Bush, by James Patterson and Martin Chatterton
Random House, 2016
Having a huge World-War=Two German stormtrooper screaming at you while jamming the business end of a submachine gun on your ribs was, decided Mortimer DeVere, most definitely one of life’s less pleasant experiences.
When you are 10 000 years old, but look only 10, life could pretty boring. You could find yourself doing the same things over and over again. That is unless you do something to make life more interesting. Mortimer DeVere (Mort) has certainly made his life exceptionally interesting. In his efforts to evade school he has travelled back through time with his sister, two school inspectors and a Ghengis Khan clone. This isn’t looking like it will end well.
Mortal Combat and Mortified! continue the adventures of Mort first begun in the book of the same name. Along with the trip back to Nazi Germany, there are dinosaurs, vikings, mummies, crocodiles and even Queen Victoria.
Primary aged readers will love the chaos, the action and the humour – and they might even pick up a little history along the way.
Good fun for readers eight and over.
Mortal Combat , by Martin Chatterton
Random House, 2012
Mortified!, by Martin Chatterton
Random House, 2013
Mort has lived on remote and inhospitable-looking Unk Island for a long time. A VERY long time.
Unk Island is not a place that gets many visitors. Shaped like a broken coffin, it squats at the very back end of nowhere, and is said by those who have seen it to be the ugliest lump of land to be found in all the seven seas. On days like today, cloud-hung and rain-lashed, it was about as welcoming as a bucket of rotten fish guts.
Yet, vile as the island might appear, six nautical miles away a ship was heading in its direction through the slab-like waves of an ink-black sea.
Mort has lived on remote and inhospitable looking Unk Island for a long time. A very long time. He and his family age more slowly than the general population. His parents are away, his sister Agnetha has her own diversions and he’s experimenting with the assistance of a few clones: Leonardo da Vinci, Robert Oppenheimer, HG Wells and others. So it’s actually an advantage that no one visits. Mort notices the arrival of Patricia Molyneux and her assistant Nigel Spalding, and although he has no idea why they’re here, on this day he has more reasons than usual to avoid visitors. Start the clock ticking, because Mort’s day is just beginning and he’s got plans. Big plans. Plans that do not include playing host to unknown visitors who want who-knows-what.
‘Mort: The 10,000-Year-Old Boy’ is a hoot. From the pet who grew too big, to the warlord who does Mort’s bidding, to the machinations of the trio in his laboratory, this remote island has more secrets than a busload of spies. Where children might collect toys, Mort collects historical figures, but only those he can manipulate to play his wild games. ‘Mort’ is the first in a new series from Martin Chatterton and is sure to have readers chuckling and cheering at each twist and new development. Just as Mort, viewpoint character has the power to see what others on the island are up to, the reader is ahead of Mort in knowing what’s going on around them. But Mort has been around a long time, and his powers of adaptation are very well-developed. Recommended for middle-primary readers and anyone who wants to know what Sir David Attenborough does between shows.
Mort: The 10,000-Year-Old Boy, Martin Chatterton Random House Australia 2012 ISBN: 9781742753157
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Available from good bookstores or online.
Tikki Flicker was in trouble for planting forget-me-nots in Pisky Marsh.
‘Don’t do that, Tikki Flicker!’ grumbled Uncle Sedge. ‘Remember the Pixie Code – Good pixies mind the marsh.’
Tikki giggled. ‘But Uncle Sedge, I’m a bad pixie. Putting plants where they annoy you is my most favourite bit of badness.’
‘Nonsense,’ said here uncle. He snorted. ‘Bad pixie indeed! Hmph!’
Tikki flickered away. ‘I am so a bad pixie,’ she said.
Hiding in her favourite ‘look-see’ tree, Tikki Flicker discovers that there is a place for bad pixies to go to if they want to properly learn how to be bad. Tikki is thrilled. The Hags Abademy of Badness sounds like somewhere she would really fit in, unlike here in the marsh where she never feels she quite belongs. But entry to the Abademy requires potential students to be awarded a Badge of Badness. And to earn that, no little annoyance will do, Tikki must perform a big badness. To achieve this she enlists the help of a tiny horse imp and a ‘dryfoot’ (human) boy. Martin Chatterton’s humourous black and white sketches are scattered throughout.
Tiffany Mandrake provides both foreword and afterword for Tikki the Tricky Pixie , warning that the story within is really a secret and that the reader must keep it so. She also explains that badness here is more about providing spice to life rather than doing too much harm. And indeed it’s hard to consider Tikki very wicked when her activities include causing flowers to grow where they shouldn’t, and tricking her uncle. Tikki is a delicious bite of mischief, trying very hard to find her place in the world. Recommended for independent readers.
Tikki the Tricky Pixie, Tiffany Mandrake ill Martin Chatterton
Little Hare 2010
Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond . Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
Eric the ox was going as fast as he could.
Eric didn’t believe in doing things quickly. Especially not pulling heavy carts filled with actors, singers, musical instruments, props, costumes and everything else that made up the Black Skulls, the most exciting theatrical performers in England. Eric’s cart was heading south towards Richmond Palace where the Skulls were due to perform for Her Most Glorious and Majestic Queen Elizabeth. Eleven-year-old William Shakespeare, known as Willy Waggledagger to his friends, was the driver. He had been a member of the Skulls for little over a week and was looking forward to this performance ore than anything he’d ever looked forward to before. But right now, all he could think about was his aching bum.
Willy Waggledagger is the newest member of the Black Skulls, a touring band of players. Willy is on the run from his overbearing and very smelly father and the threat of life as a hide tanner. The Black Skulls are en route to perform for the Queen and her sycophantic court. The players set up camp within Richmond Forest, slightly unsettled by the stories about it being haunted. There, after a misunderstanding with a bear, they meet the King of the Faeries. The wildfire plot loosely follows the story of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Mayhem, misunderstanding, and misdirected love cause Willy all manner of anguish. At times, he considers a return to the horror of his father’s wrath as being less troublesome than his present circumstances. Gregory Roger’s full page illustrations add to the humour as Willy and his friends try to retrieve a golden girdle and prevent war.
Shakespeare’s texts can be very dense to young readers, even where the story is full of almost slapstick humour as in his comedies. Martin Chatterton doesn’t pretend to follow the texts closely, but he does suggest that such stories may have provided inspiration to a young Shakespeare. Chatterton concocts a wild and funny adventure with a million absurd twists and turns. He pokes fun at the more pompous members of the court and suggests that every world has it’s share of buffoons. Clothed as it is in humour, ‘A Belt Around My Bum’ readers may not really notice that they are also being introduced to history and the world in which Shakespeare lived. There’s the very fragile grace and favour system of the English Court, the superstitions and jealousies of the theatre, and more. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.
A Belt Around My Bum (Willy Waggledagger), Martin Chatterton ill Gregory Rogers
Little Hare 2009
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This title can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
Anyone who has ever worn a false beard, especially a big, furry ginger one, will know there’s one thing about them that is rather annoying.
Deep in the middle of the audience, eleven-year-old William Shakespeare’s false beard was tickling like crazy.
Willy was wearing it because he was in disguise. And he was in disguise because Sir Victor Vile had ordered that only grown-ups were allowed inside Stratford Theatre for that night’s big show. Which might not have been a problem for Willy…except that the headline act was the Black Skulls, the most exciting travelling theatre group in all of England.
By the Picking of My Nose is the first in a new series from Martin Chatterton about the adventures of William Shakespeare as a child. Willy Waggledagger, as he comes to be known here, is mad keen on the theatre. But it’s a passion not shared by his tanner father. And the theatre owner isn’t that excited by children at the theatre. So Willy pops on his disguise and he’s safe. Or not. His adventures begin with tickling the Queen’s bottom and continue through booger fortune telling by the hags in the kitchen, friendship with yorick, good-luck-charm status with the understudy to a crescendo conclusion. Scattered thickly throughout are references to characters, settings and happenings from Shakespeare’s plays. Each chapter includes a full-page black-and-white illustration.
By the Picking of My Nose takes the reader on a wild romp through Shakespeare’s England. Although very tongue-in-cheek, Chatterton has included some of the sights, smells and culture of the times in his adventure. It’s history, but not as it’s commonly seen. It’s debatable whether the target audience will pick up all the Shakespeare references but it doesn’t really matter. The grand adventure, includes envy, revenge, skulduggery, witchcraft (or is that just the cooking of the time) and nose-picking fortune-telling, as the plot twists and turns and then twists again. Villains are given villainous names but also show their softer side. Seemingly innocuous characters reveal deeper, darker personalities in a fast-moving plot. The font size is large. Recommended for confident mid-primary readers and beyond.
By the Picking of My Nose, Martin Chatterton ill Gregory Rogers
Little Hare 2009
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
Sheldon sat up. Brilliant! They would solve the Biff Manly case, catch his killer (although personally Sheldon still hadn’t forgiven Biff for that smack on the head) and be the toast of Farrago – hooray! There might even be a reward from Dento.
Sheldon’s life isn’t going too well. His dad is dead after a mysterious boating accident involving humpback whales, and he’s the target of the school bullies. Then a mysterious new boy, called The Brain, arrives at school, which coincides with a string of strange occurrences around the usually dull Farrago Bay. Birds are flying backwards, bats are active in the daytime, and Sheldon sees a horse hunting a bird. But that’s nothing compared to the massive crocodile which thinks it is a dog.
When local surfing hero Biff Manly is found dead, The Brain decides that he is the man (or boy) to solve the case – and he chooses Sheldon to be his sidekick. Sheldon has no idea what a sidekick does, but he’s on a steep learning curve, and soon is involved in sleuthing, hunts and chases, and even a fight for his life, as he works with his new friend to figure out exactly what is going on.
This is a fast-paced, humorous read suitable for upper primary aged readers. The silliness and complete unlikelihood of the events will appeal especially to boy readers, who will love that it is the children who solve the mystery, in spite of the efforts of the stereotypically bumbling local police.
There is lots here to like.
The Brain Finds a Leg, by Martin Chatterton
Little Hare, 2007
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Purchasing through this link supports Aussiereviews
It was always cheese.
Didn’t the Swiss have anything else to put on their sandwiches?
Sheldon McGlone looked at his lunch and shook his head with the air of someone well used to dealing with life’s disappointments.
It wasn’t that Sheldon really had anything against cheese, or dairy products, or the Swiss for that matter. He’d often enjoyed a tasty cheese sandwich back in Australia. But lately it seemed that all hed’ been getting on his school sandwiches was Swiss cheese, chock full of the completely pointless holes that they were so proud of.
Sheldon is a normal Australian boy. His mother has remarried and they have moved across the world to live in Switzerland. Sheldon’s stepbrother, and best friend, Theo (aka The Brain) considers himself the ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ and is acknowledged as a genius. It is The Brain who first notices that the Swiss cheese has no holes. Then Sheldon discovers that his can of Floop has no bubbles. For Sheldon, lots of things are different in Switzerland, but even he knows that something is not quite right. Then Helga Poom arrives. Helga seems to be a female equivalent of The Brain, but to Sheldon’s besotted eyes, much, much more attractive. Helga’s father has disappeared and she needs their help to find him.
The Brain Full of Holes is told in third person, by early-teen Sheldon. Sheldon is carried along in this wild adventure with his step-brother and the gorgeous Helga. The Brain Full of Holes is full of humour, including multiple puns and absurdities. Each character is like a House of Mirrors exaggeration of reality. The Brain is pale and skinny with a large head, Sheldon is bumbling and always playing catch-up to try and understand what’s going on. Fortunately both Brain and Helga are happy to show their extreme intelligence by providing detailed explanations on what’s going on. But Sheldon, the viewpoint character, has a part to play too as this adventure spirals to its particle shifting conclusion. Recommended for upper-primary to lower-secondary readers.
The Brain Full of Holes, Martin Chatterton
Little Hare 2008
This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereveiws.