These are new additions to Bloomsbury Young Readers: thanks to Bloomsbury Education for sending them for review
The Pancake Champ Joanna Nadin, illustrated by Ana Gómez
A new boy at school, Manjit has yet to make any special friends but then he works with Leon and they quickly become good friends. Then comes an invitation to tea from Leon’s dad and the panic begins. He frets about various possibilities, the worst being what he’ll be offered to eat. Nonetheless he agrees to go but then Leon’s dad says it’s pancakes for tea – it couldn’t be a worse prospect. But suppose you have the opportunity to join in the making and even choose the flavour, that might just make all the difference …
An amusing tale of friendship and facing your fears by author Joanna and illustrator Ana that will go down well with learner readers at home or in school.
The Monster Who was Scared of Soap Amy Sparkes, illustrated by Jack Viant
A very funny tale of Gerald a little monster that hates the idea of a bath and whose mother goes to special lengths to get her little one to comply with her bath time regime. Gerald in response does his level best to get out of the annual watery, soapy situation, dashing out of the house to hide. Will the promise of a special secret surprise lure him to the bathroom and if so what will be the outcome? In Ana Gómez’s bright jolly illustrations Gerald’s mum bears remarkable resemblance to something your granny might have created as a bathroom accessory back in the day. With its surprise finale Amy Sparkes’ addition to Bloomsbury Young Readers series should definitely go down well with learner readers.
Both books have the usual tips for grown-ups and fun-time activities inside the front and back covers respectively.
The Worst Class in the World Dares You! Joanna Nadin, illustrated by Rikin Parekh Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Nits and Dares are the topics of the two riotous episodes contained in this third volume of the exploits of Class 4B taught by the long-suffering Mr Nidgett; yes that’s the one headteacher of St. Regina’s Primary, Mrs Bottomley-Blunt, has decided are “LITERALLY the worst class in the world.” I’ve no idea how she managed to land the job as she thinks learning should absolutely NOT be fun. However as always, Manjit and Stanley (our narrator) have imaginative fool-proof plans at the ready and as is ever the case, they never intend to cause the mayhem that seems to ensue; it’s just that their foolproof plans do not always work quite as anticipated. So, when there’s a possibility that an epidemic of Nits could cancel Maths Test Tuesday, the class plot to make certain this does actually happen: they definitely don’t want to have to forgo watching War of the Wizards on TV to revise. Perhaps they might even have to be off school on the day in question. Little do they know what chaos their plans will unleash. After all, those containers full of mini-beasts of various kinds are perfectly safe with Class 4B- surely; err …
The second story sees the arrival of new girl, Bridget Pickersgill and she’s a person who likes dares – of the mad variety; the reward for doing one of her dares is to become an Overlord of the Universe. Anybody fancy eating that ‘Very Dead Fly’ that’s been lying beside the ‘Abandoned Plimsoll’ for over a week? Or indeed accepting any of the other dares the girl dreams up on subsequent days …
Great fun for solo reading as well as a class read-aloud.
Aven Green Sleuthing Machine Dusti Rowling, illustrated by Gina Perry Sterling
Despite being differently abled, eight year old Aven Green (born without arms) is still an ace sleuth (a private investigator is what her mum and dad have dubbed their daughter.) Her take on the matter is that all those extra arm cells went instead to her brain. When someone starts stealing food – her teacher’s lunch and items from the school cafeteria – she’s on the case. But food is just the first thing to go missing. Next it’s her great grandmother’s dog, more food disappears – are these things connected perhaps? Then a sad-looking new girl joins Aven’s class. Why is she sad? Yet another mystery. That seems rather a lot for one girl however super-powered her brain. Perhaps some help from family members and some of her classmates might be needed to discover what is going on.
With plentiful illustrations by Gina Perry , this is just right for new solo readers especially those who like strong, self-willed protagonists. Moreover, those that do will be delighted to discover that before this story ends, Aven decides to set aside her P.I. business and instead concentrate on baking. Hence she becomes known as:
Aven Green Baking Machine
As this tale opens Aven has already honed her baking skills at home – she uses her feet to crack eggs and measure out ingredients and now, along with her three friends, she wants to enter the baking competition at the upcoming county fair. The first task is to decide which of their recipes to use and the way to do that is to try out each one and decide upon the yummiest. That’s when the problems begin and after Aven has found fault with each of her friend’s choices, it’s decided that they don’t want to work with her. This offers an opportunity for the sometimes over-opinionated girl to see the error of her ways, learn to forgive and become more open-minded. There’s a great opportunity for readers who like to cook too: at the end of the narrative, the author provides the six recipes mentioned in the story.
The Worst Class in the World
Joanna Nadin, illustrated by Rikin Parekh
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
It’s official : class 4B belonging to Mr Nidgett is LITERALLY the Worst Class in the world . It must be so because that’s what rule-fanatic Mrs Bottomley-Blunt, headmistress of St. Regina’s Primary has declared and she ought to know.
She has plenty of examples of their outrageous behaviour to quote such as when Marvey Barlow smuggled a penguin back on the bus after the class trip to Grimley Zoo; or the Show and Tell session when Manjit’s dog, Killer sated its hunger on gel pens, not to mention a pair of Mr Nidgett’s shoes (luckily not those on his feet at the time).
And there was that playground-tunnelling incident too.
One can hardly blame Mr Nidgett threatening on more than one occasion to leave teaching and become a lion tamer instead. Funnily enough it was a challenging Y4 class that brought me close to the edge too, but by the final term I ended up absolutely loving them despite everything and wouldn’t have swapped them for anything. A bit like pupil Stanley Bradshaw, who introduces us to 4B and acts as narrator of the two episodes The Biscuit King (with its FOOLPROOF PLAN) and the aforementioned Show and Tell in which those shoes and pens are not the only things that get eaten, but on that topic I’ll say no more.
Instead let me suggest you get hold of a copy of this splutter-inducing book with its crazy chaotic classroom atmosphere superbly portrayed through Joanna’s gigglesome narrative and Rikin Parekh’s illustrations that are equally entertaining. How long, one wonders did it take for Mrs B-B to compile her list of 50 rules.
That’s rule no. 9 duly broken
Not that long, I suspect, and I bet not a single one was on account of a transgression by a member of class 4A.
Finally, a FOOLPROOF PLAN, if you happen to be a primary teacher, buy several copies – one to keep for cheering you up when you feel down, or to share with your class, others as solo reads for youngsters around the age of Mr Nidgett’s pupils and thus likely to have similar preoccupations as Stanley, Manjit, Lacey Braithwaite, Bruce Bingley et al