Total Quack Up! edited by Sally Rippin and Adrian Becks

Total Quack Up! is a collection of short stories from some of Australia’s funniest children’s authors guaranteed to have you quacking up and laughing out loud! So be careful where you read this book…

Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck are the editors of Total Quack Up! They wanted to help raise money for Dymocks Children’s Charities who work very hard to make sure kids across the country get their hands on great books and develop the skills they need to read them. Sally and Adrian asked eight author friends if they would like to write a funny story and James Foley to be the illustrator. These generous people donated their story and illustrations to create this book and all of the proceeds from Total Quack Up! will go to Dymock’s Children’s Charities.

Buying a copy of Total Quack Up! is a ‘win-win’ because you get a funny book to enjoy AND you will be helping other kids to have books so they can enjoy reading too!

Here’s a taste of the stories in Total Quack Up!…

After reading Total Quack Up! you might be inspired to write your own funny short story…

Happy reading!

Real Pigeons Fight Crime by Andrew McDonald

Did you know your city is protected by a secret squad of crime-fighting pigeons? Yes, pigeons!

Some pigeons might spend their day cooing or looking for breadcrumbs, but not the Real Pigeons! This feathered secret crime-fighting squad solve mysteries and fight bad guys to keep your city safe. Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood reveal all in Real Pigeons Fight Crime.

GrandPouter has gathered together his team of pigeons who are perfect for fighting crime because they are fast, can attack and they’re everywhere! Each pigeon in the team also has his own unique pigeon power. They hold their top secret team meetings in rubbish bins (which can be dangerous on bin collection day!) and are always on the look out for animals and people to help and mysteries to solve. They might be checking out your neighbourhood right now!  

In the three stories in this book, GrandPouter, Rock, Homey, Tumbler and Frillback work together using some very creative (or is that crazy) problem solving combined with their pigeon powers to solve The Great Breadcrumb Mystery, track down an elusive Bat Trapper and prevent a disaster at the Food Truck Fair. Keep an eye out for Rock’s clever (and sometimes wacky) disguises and Tumbler’s impressive flight moves when he flies at night with the bats. 

If you’re looking for a new funny series to read then this is it. I’m sure you will have as much fun reading Real Pigeons Fight Crime as Andrew and Ben have had writing and illustrating it. They are a fabulous team who share the same wacky sense of humour that bursts out their book! You won’t look at pigeons in the same way ever again!

Create your own Real Pigeon
Research pigeons to help you create your own Real Pigeon character.

What are its characteristics and pigeon power?
What is its name?
What will it look like?

Lucky for you, the second book in the Real Pigeon series called Real Pigeons Eat Danger will be coming in November! Read more about it HERE

Happy reading and being Super Coo fighting crime with the Real Pigeons!

Teacher notes

Natural Born Loser by Oliver Phommavanh

Maybe that’s the main reason Mr Humble picked me. I was a natural born loser, a nobody, but I was a nobody who believed in Barryjong. Now I’ve become somebody worth following. (Raymond) 

Natural Born Loser by Oliver Phommavanh is one of my favourite books of the year! 

There is so much heart in this story and after reading this interview with Oliver, you can see how his experiences as a student and teacher have played a big part in helping him write Natural Born Loser.

Not everyone wants to be a leader out the front and in the lime light, certainly not Raymond Bulanghagui. He sees himself as a follower and prefers to blend into the background, particularly around bullies. That is until the new principal, Mr Humble arrives and wants to turn Barryjong school around so it’s no longer a joke amongst other schools and a breeding ground for bullies. Raymond’s life changes when his best mate Zain dares him to ‘audition’ for a prefect position. No one is more shocked than Raymond when he is chosen alongside Zain, Randa and Ally who all seem to have more to offer than he does. However, Mr Humble has seen something in Raymond and gives him a chance to step up and be a leader.

The four prefects don’t have an easy job ahead with bullymons like Russell Carney (Carn-age) and his cronies ready to bring them down at any opportunity. When Raymond dares himself to speak up at assembly and suggests they raise money for new air conditioners all of a sudden he goes from being a nobody to the students supporting him. I’m sure you too will be cheering on the four prefects as they learn to combine their talents and work together as a leadership team to raise their goal of $20,000. Their crazy fundraising challenges are fun for students, teachers and parents alike, especially the brilliant Dareathon! The fundraising culminates in an exciting Footy Fan Day and there’s one final surprise from Mr Humble for the four prefects, who along the way have united the Barryjong Primary School community and turned it into a ‘cool’ school in more ways than one.

There’s no stopping ‘Barryjong United’ now!

Happy reading and thinking up fun dares for a Dareathon!

Teacher notes

 

Pig the Grub by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Pug is back!  Eww…don’t get too close!

Pig isn’t just the world’s greediest Pug, he’s the dirtiest too. He spends his days rolling in mud, playing with unspeakable muck and leaking smells that make neat and clean Trevor’s eyes water. Personal hygiene is not a priority for Pig the Pug. 

So BATHTIME was called!
‘You stinky old mutt!

You need a good clean
from your ears to your butt!’

The last thing Pig the Pug wants is a bath! Trevor waits patiently in his shower cap as Pig ducks and weaves and doubles back trying to avoid the dreaded soapy water. Pig has a plan…

They watched as Pig gloated.
They watched as Pig crowed.

Definitely not an idea for you to try at home!!


Can you see Pig’s plan?
What do you think will happen?

Happy reading! 

Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Go Wild by Tim Harris

Grab your tents, sleeping bags and marshmallows! Mr Bambuckle and 12B are off on a camping adventure in Tim Harris‘ third book, Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Go Wild.

Camping doesn’t start well for Damon Dunst who forgets to pack his tent. Luckily Mr Bambuckle has a spare tent. DO read Damon’s instructions for ‘How to put up a Tent’, but DON’T follow them! When their tents have been set up and the students are relaxing around the fire toasting marshmallows, the last person they expect to be lurking in the bushes is the dreaded Miss Frost! Armed with a GPS and a thick folder of rules, the assistant principal has arrived to ensure Mr Bambuckle and 12B are following the rules because she believes ‘discipline is the new order’ and is still looking for an opportunity to fire Mr Bambuckle. However, Mr Bambuckle is already prepared and his motto of ‘kindness and team work’ empowers his students to work together to support each other when the nasty Miss Frost reveals her plans.

Canteen Carol is back and this time Mr Bambuckle expertly twists their hilarious conversation so she unwittingly agrees to supply food for their camp meals. Led by Slugger, the class work together to create an impressive meal on the first evening, ending with a mouth-watering dessert of Belgian-chocolate-dipped fairy bread garnished with flakes of toffee-caramel. Can you believe Miss Frost chose to eat her own food instead??

Unfortunately, but not surprising, Miss Frost is a person who holds a grudge and suspects it was Scarlett who used PhotoCrop to transport her to South America. Miss Frost is out for revenge and has planned a high-tech hide and seek challenge using her GPS to track down the students. We experience the challenge through Miffy Armstrong’s eyes as she tries to overcome her fear of hurdles and the students work together as a team to win. However, it’s Scarlett’s courage that shines through in the end.

Thanks to their inspiring and mysteriously well planned teacher, the students in 12B continue to have fun and learn a lot about themselves and each other during their adventures in the wilderness. There are lots of laughs with Mr Bambuckle’s witty puns, Damon’s attempts to get to sleep; Vinnie’s lesson about sucking up and Myra and Albert’s Morse Code chat. I don’t know about you, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the speckled-dagger vulture when I’m on my walks!

Stay tuned for Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables on the Lookout in early 2019 when Vex Vron goes missing…

Happy reading!

The Alien Zoo…Good As New! by Adrian Beck

“Holy heckballs!” as Jen would say. Adrian Beck has written a fun, action-packed, roller coaster (or is that food cart) ride of an adventure with The Alien Zoo…Good As New! as Ben and Jen along with Gideon, Dane and Ava, attempt to save both alien and Earth creatures and even humankind from extinction. Who knew Space Flu could be so dangerous?

A shape-shifting Sh’veele infected with Space Flu is delivered to the Alien Zoo and needs to be kept in isolation before it is cured. However, when Jen’s sweet little guinea pig Vernon escapes from her pocket and enters the Sh’veele’s container he becomes infected and transforms into a large ferocious zombie furball, all teeth and claws and ready to attack. Vernon needs to be caught before he infects the Alien Zoo…and beyond!

When humans get the flu we’re all aches and pains, snuffles and sore throats. However, when alien creatures are infected with Space Flu it takes effect immediately and they become wildly aggressive, detest being locked up and worst of all they develop a taste for humans (the only ones immune to Space Flu)! Imagine what some of the creatures with all types of dangerous abilities that you’ve already met in the first Alien Zoo book would be like when zombified? Yikes!!

Normally Space Flu isn’t a problem at the Alien Zoo because Cooper the robot would spray the cure through sprinklers. However, Ben has been reprogramming Cooper and now the decontamination process isn’t working. Ben needs to do a manual reset of Cooper to get him working properly and stop the Space Flu from spreading. It’s not going to be easy to make their way to the control room where the most dangerous creatures are kept while also being chased by baby Greepers who have transformed into hulking beasts with razor sharp tails. On their dangerous quest to stop the spread of the Space Flu, our brave zoo keepers and friends hide out in the stinky cheese burp-filled Flurp enclosure to cover their human scent, dodge icy cold spitballs from an Octorg that turns its targets to sub zero before they shatter, survive a hair raising ride in food carts above a swirling lava river and solve Grandpa’s mysterious codes and clues. As the reader, you too get to be part of the action by solving interactive puzzles and optical illusions along the way and finally discover why hippos are so important and what really happened to Grandad.

I really enjoyed how fast paced this adventure is, the creative problem solving and Adrian’s fun and cheeky sense of humour that shines through Ben as he narrates the story. It has all the elements that make a great book for teachers to have fun reading to their class. Add to this Heath McKenzie’s lively illustrations that brilliantly bring the characters and alien creatures to life and you have a perfect team.

I liked the first book, The Alien Zoo….And You! so much that I dressed as Jen for Book Week last year!

Happy reading and avoiding Space Flu!

‘Total Quack Up!’ Writing Competition

If you like to write and your dream is to be a published author then the Total Quack Up! Writing Competition is for YOU!

Penguin Random House is offering the opportunity for a young writer (12 years and under) to have his or her story published in ‘Total Quack Up’.  Yes, that could be YOU!

Total Quack Up! is a humorous short story collection to be published by Penguin Random House in October. It will be filled with funny short stories by lots of your favourite authors including Sally Rippin, Adrian Beck, Jacqueline Harvey, Matt Stanton, Alex Miles, Tristan Bancks, R.A Spratt, Oliver Phommavanh, Deb Abela and the legendary Paul Jennings. The illustrations by talented James Foley will quack you up! 

‘Sally and I will be reading every single entry and most of all we want kids to make us laugh out loud! The stories can be about anything—they can be embarrassing, possibly spooky or even a little gross! And personally, I love a twist, so I’m hoping for some surprise endings.’ (Adrian Beck)

Your funny short story must be a minimum of 500 words and submitted online HERE by Sunday, July 29. 

Total Quack Up! is a wonderful initiative. Watch this segment on Kids WB to learn how the authors are donating their stories and the money from the royalties of the book will go to the Dymocks Children’s Charities to help children who don’t have access to books. What a win-win! When you buy a copy of Total Quack Up! you can laugh and have fun reading the book and feel good knowing you have helped other kids have the opportunity to own books too.

Good luck if you are entering the competition! Get busy writing!!

Happy writing!

My Life and Other Failed Experiments by Tristan Bancks

My Life and Other Failed Experiments is the seventh book in the Tom Weekly series and it continues to make me laugh out loud! It is filled once again with funny short stories, lists and quizzes by Tristan Bancks and hilarious illustrations by Gus Gordon. I can only imagine the fun Tristan and Gus have creating the Tom Weekly books. What a dynamic duo!

Tom Weekly says his life is a science experiment gone horribly wrong so his new motto is ‘Never give up, never give in’. That’s a big challenge when your guinea pig is held hostage by your evil sister, you’re hit in the face by a fruitcake as hard as a brick, attacked by a posse of possums and you totally embarrass yourself in front of the girl of your dreams on Christmas Eve.

In Hostage, Tom’s sister Tanya holds his guinea pig Gus hostage and threatens to drop him out the window if Tom doesn’t hand over his birthday money – a whopping $180! With just eight seconds left can Tom save his beloved Gus and his birthday money from his evil, maniacal, psycho sister? Stop reading at page 11…What would you do?

The legendary feud between Tom and Jack’s Nans, Nancy and Sue continues in Razorblade Fruitcake when Nancy’s crown as the Fruitcake Queen is threatened when Sue enters the baking competition. Why does Tom believe his Nan when she tells him Sue has baked something dangerous in her fruit cake? Who wins the prize and the fight as fruitcakes go flying like frisbees?

Some people think possums are cute…Tom Weekly is not one of them! Thanks to Tom, in Attack of the Killer Possums, the Weekly’s roof has been invaded by possums and their noisy roof antics are turning his family into sleepless zombies. On top of the ladder at midnight, Tom tries to put the roof tile back in place only to discover…

There are ten or twelve possums staring at me from a tree. A posse of possums. I’m pretty sure one of them is picking his teeth with a long knife. One looks like it has only one eye. Another has tattoos on its pink hairless snout and bears its sharp teeth, growling in a low demonic hiss.

It’s Tom Weekly versus the possums…and it gets ugly!

I don’t think I will be looking at the Christmas lights in my neighbourhood in quite the same way after reading about Tom’s exploits in The Christmas Kiss. Tom’s mum asks him to dress up as Father Christmas on Christmas Eve and zoom down a zip line from their balcony to deliver candy canes and Christmas puddings to neighbourhood kids. Tom only agrees when  Sasha, the love of his life promises to give him a kiss. Eating a record twelve candy canes beforehand, combined with Tom snagging the Christmas tree lights on his way down, makes the Weekly’s Christmas Eve one that will be remembered in their neighbourhood for a long time. And one both Tom and poor Sasha will want to forget!

One of my favourite stories, Author Visit should be compulsory reading for authors! Gary Cleese (aka Barry Cheese thanks to Mr Skroop) is visiting Kings Bay Public school. Not even his ‘Reading is Fun’ t-shirt or Tom Weekly’s desperate attempts can save Gary Cleese from the 400 students ready to bring him down in ways he had never imagined with a barrage of questions that hijack his carefully planned author presentation.

Tristan continues to ask the hard questions with his quizzes What Would You Rather Do? and Who Would You Rather Be? For the record I would rather abseil down the side of a sky scraper than dive off a tall bridge and I’d rather be Wonder Woman than Lisa Simpson (although I’d really rather be Batgirl who was also a librarian!). I’m sure there will be lots of discussion with your friends about your choices and you could think up some of your own! You could also try some of Tom Weekly’s Handy Hacks for Household Chores…your mum might not be impressed though!

After reading My Life and Other Failed Experiments check the back of the book to see all the schools and kids who have helped Tristan with his ideas during his author visits and writing workshops.

 Tristan can make an author visit to your school or a visit via Skype or Google Hangout.

Thanks Tristan and Gus for creating books that make reading fun!

Tristan Bancks’ Writing Workshop

Last week I went along to the fabulous children’s bookshop, The Little Bookroom in Carlton to a writing workshop with Tristan. He read us the opening of Hostage and asked everyone with just 8 seconds left, how they would save Gus the guinea pig. There were some clever ideas!

Next was a writing task, ‘I Remember’ and in 30 seconds you had to write as many funny memories as you could. Tristan then asked everyone to choose one memory to write about, but also add something untrue to their short story. The challenge for the audience was to listen and pick which part of the story wasn’t true. Tristan explained that you write a good story by mixing your experience and imagination (just as Sally Rippin said), which is how he writes his funny stories about Tom Weekly.

Another great piece of writing advice from Tristan was to be kind to yourself as a writer because “Your first (and second and third) drafts always stink.” Keep drafting and polishing your stories until you are happy with them. 

These are great Teacher Notes for the Tom Weekly series.

Happy reading and writing! 

The Champion Charlies series by Adrian Beck

Charles was the best player in the boys’ football team.
Charlotte was the best player in the girls’ side.
But this season they’re both playing in the SAME mixed team
Is there room for TWO Champion Charlies in the ONE side?

Adrian Beck has combined his cheeky brand of humour with his love of football (soccer) to create a fun sport series that celebrates the world game of football.

The Mix-Up is the first book in The Champion Charlies series.

Charlotte Alessi and Charles ‘CJ’ Jackson are talented football players at the Jets Football Club. Charlotte is ultra organised, has a no-nonsense ponytail and is smart. CJ is a risk-taking daredevil who doesn’t like to follow rules and is not always smart which we quickly learn when he attempts a kamikaze rescue mission of a football stuck in a tree in the opening chapter. These two total opposites will need to find a way to work together in a mixed football team if they want to continue playing their beloved football.

CJ and Charlotte both have qualities that would make them a good team captain. CJ desperately wants to be the Jets’ captain and gets himself into all sorts of trouble as he tries to win over teammates and puts his friendship with his mate Benji at risk. CJ and Charlotte finally overcome their rivalry at a Matilda’s game when they hear striker, Sam Kerr explain the key to the Matildas’ success “We just pull together, try to use everyone’s skills and face every challenge as a team.” 

There’s lots of football action in the final chapters as the Jets try to bond as a team to beat their arch rivals, the Hillside Hammersmiths. Watch for a clever tweak to the Jets’ tactics (courtesy of The Dancing Dads) in the second half. Which team will win and who will be named the new captain of the Jets?

One of my favourite characters is Mr Hyants, otherwise known as High Pants. He is named as the new coach even though he has never coached before. After reading a sports blog about inspirational music, High Pants (who always wanted to be a pop star) coaches the team by singing karaoke from the sidelines with songs to motivate them. Imagine hearing ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ when you’re doing goal kicking practice or ‘Shake it Off!’ when you fall over! It’s a very unique way of coaching!  

Top Five Reasons to read the The Mix-Up

It’s fun

You can read about sport

There are fun facts about football

You’ll know how to do the 4-2-2 formation (I do now!)

You might want a karaoke coach 

 

Try the first chapter of The Mix-Up!  HERE

The second book Boot It is also available and the next two books in the series will be published in September.

Writing workshop with Adrian Beck at The Little Bookroom
Tuesday, July 10th

This workshop is for 7-12 year-olds during the school holidays. Each ticket includes a copy of the book The Champion Charlies: The Mix-Up which will be available to collect at the workshop.
You can book your place HERE  I guarantee it will be fun writing with Adrian!

Happy reading and playing soccer!

Teacher notes

 

Dr Boogaloo and The Girl Who Lost Her Laughter by Lisa Nicol

Can you imagine what your life would be like without laughter?

Dr Boogaloo is no ordinary doctor. Strange disorders and unusual complaints are his specialty. Dr Boogaloo is the doctor you see when you have Talks In Slow Motion Syndrome or You Can Only Sleep Hanging Upside Down Syndrome. Dr Boogaloo and his family use the most powerful medicine of all to cure patients…music! The Boogaloo Family Clinic of Musical Cures has never had a complaint that couldn’t be cured until Blue arrived. Ten-year-old Blue hasn’t laughed for 712 days!

Dr Boogaloo suspects Blue has No Laughing Syndrome and sends her to The Snorkel Porkel Crumpety Worpel Laughter Clinic to be sure. Unlike you and I, Blue doesn’t laugh or even giggle at the Tickle Machine, blooper reels, hula-hooping cats in bikinis, YouTube videos of epic fails, or even at Gassy Gus who can blow up balloons with his bottom.

Dr Boogaloo has two weeks to compose an urgent cure for Blue before she loses her laughter forever. Blue needs the right dose of the right music, but there’s no point listening to a jive if you’re in need of some boogie-woogie, and you can’t just substitute a toot for a blow! Blue patiently listens to talented musicians playing music and instruments she didn’t know existed and even summons the courage to swim with Leonard the Blues singing humpback whale in an attempt to help her laugh again. It isn’t until Dr Boogaloo has almost given up in despair that he finds the cure he needs for Blue in an unexpected place.

One of my favourite parts of the story is the daily ride Blue takes to the clinic on Bessie’s extraordinary iBike. This strange contraption looks like it has an entire orchestra collapsed on it and plays over a million tunes that change with the landscape as you ride along. It would be fun to draw or make your version of the iBike (and even include music and a matching landscape) after reading the fabulous description on pages 41-42.

This is a quirky, funny and sometimes sad story that celebrates laughter, friendship and the power and magic of music.

“Not everyone hears the right music – or knows how to listen. And they suffer terribly… if you don’t let your heart fly, your tune gets right out of whack. It’s a bit like spending your whole life indoors – it’s just not good for your health.” (Bessie)

Happy reading!

Teaching notes