Friday 17 September 2010

Hazard River series: Shark Frenzy; Snake Surprise

Hazard River series: Shark Frenzy by JE Fison (Ford Street Publishing)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9781921665110
Reviewed by Jenny Mounfield

While holidaying on the banks of Hazard River (a name that doesn’t exactly inspire relaxation), brothers, Jack and Ben, and friend Lachlan find a dead shark minus its fins. This might very well be the work of pirates—or perhaps the unfortunate beastie was molested by a giant squid. Whatever the cause, the boys are determined to get to the bottom of it.

And so, off the intrepid trio goes, sailing into the moonlight, dodging sandbanks and soldier crabs—and maybe, just maybe, pirates. But it is only the next day after the discovery of another finless shark and with knowledgeable, well-travelled Mimi onboard that the mystery stands a chance of being solved.

Snake Surprise by JE Fison
ISBN 9781921665127
(Other details as above)

In book two in the Hazard River series we find the kids holed up playing board games one rainy day when they spot an untethered houseboat surging down the river on a collision course with Mimi’s parents’ yacht. What else can the flummoxed foursome do but spring into action?

Convinced the boat’s owner has been poisoned by a rotten-toothed glass eye-wearing villain and that there is treasure to be found, Ben insists on searching the abandoned craft. They find is a note bearing the words: HELP ME and what follows is more mystery, mayhem and, as its title suggests, a snake.

While 10 year old narrator Jack comes across as being a little too mature at times--and some of his expressions are truly corny—he is a character readers will relate to. So, too, are his dead critter collector brother, Ben, daredevil Lachlan and level-headed Mimi. Written in a light, humorous style with covers that are bright and busy, short chapters, snappy dialogue and plenty of action, these books with attract even the most reluctant reader. With two more titles to come: Tiger Terror and Bat Attack, I can see this series being popular with action-seeking kids 7+.

Jenny Mounfield is the author of three novels for kids, her most recent title being: The Ice-cream Man (Ford St). She has been reviewing for Buzz Words since ’06.

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