Something, the ghost of an idea, sparks in my brain, but I can’t quite grasp it. ‘…Special?’
‘Very special.’ Her hands are grappling again.
‘Do you mean “special” as in “super”?’
‘Super? Well, sure.’ She looks uncertain. ‘You’re a special boy, and a super boy.’ I’m barely able to breathe. ‘You mean I might be special like a superhero?’
Hazy Retina was born with a problem – he is out of focus. He has a habit of disappearing when things get tough, falling through walls and passing right through people. Consequently, he has no self confidence and no friends. But when his counsellor explains that his disability might make him special, Hazy latches on to her idea. Perhaps, he decides, he is Super, with a special power which will allow him to save the world. Soon, Hazy is assuming a super identity as Focus, and is gathering a crew of other emerging superheroes. But all is not plain-sailing with Focus and friends, who call themselves the OK Team, all having trouble controlling and harnessing their respective super powers.
The OK Team is a funny novel for upper primary aged readers The super powers of the young heroes are absurdly silly – from compulsive lying to being able to see into the past – and their slap-stick escapades will appeal to both boy and girl readers. Lovers of superhero comics will enjoy the many allusions to the superhero world, and the idea that perhaps superheroes are real. Most of all, readers will enjoy the fun of this story.
The OK Team, by Nick Place
Allen & Unwin, 2008
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It wasn’t until Harlan had passed the Fruitfly Cafe that he felt the shiver run up his neck. Something had been gnawing away at the back of his mind for a few minutes, but he’d only just realised what it was. He couldn’t believe he’d missed it!
‘Something is gnawing away at the back of your mind? Euuuwww, yuck!’ said a strangely high-pitched voice in a completely unnecessary and outrageously exaggerated French accent.
Harlan Banana has found his sister Ainsley pretty annoying lately, but when she is kidnapped by a pair of Martians he’s not happy. No one kidnaps his sister and gets away with it. Unfortunately, he has no idea where she is or how to rescue her, until his old friends join forces to help him.
Soon Harlan, his also-sister Georgina, a talking dog named Fly, assorted Frongles, Martians and superheroes are in pursuit of Ainsley and her kidnappers. With so much collective genius it is surely just a matter of time until they have rescued her.
Thanks a Kazillion is fast paced and completely silly, with plenty of colourful and crazy characters, loads of one-liners, zany humour and far-fetched adventure.
A sequel to The Kazillion Wish, in which Harlan and Ainsley seek a big wish to make their father happy, this can still be read as a stand-alone title. Both titles also provide a subtle message about the workings of blended families.
This zany read will appeal to 10-12 year old readers.
Thanks a Kazillion, by Nick Place,
Allen & Unwin, 2004
Harlan and Ainsley Banana are not happy. Life is not treating them well at all. First, their parents separated. Then, just when they’d got used to that, they both copped really bad teachers. Now, things are looking even more grim, with their dad in deep depression. Mister Banana is lonely, and all Ainsley and Harlan want is for him to be happy. They are sure their lives will get better if only they can cheer him up.
When Ainsley blows a dandelion and a frongle appears, she gets to make a wish. Her wish is a big wish – a Kazillion wish. The frongle, Zootfrog, explains that a kazillion wish has to be earned, by undertaking a quest: a Kazillion Wish quest.
Accompanied by a crazy creature named Zucchini Spacestation, Harlan and Ainsley embark on their quest, meeting strange and wild creatures such as the Chocolion and Martian twins with a desperate need for speed.
The Kazillion Wish is a wild and funny adventure which kids aged 7 to 11 will love. Plenty of fun.
The Kazillion Wish, by Nick Place
Allen & Unwin, 2003