Tuesday 15 January 2013

Stories for 8 Year Olds

Stories for 8 Year Olds edited by Linsay Knight, illustrated by Tom Jellett (Random House Australia)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9781742756608
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

Andy Griffiths, R.A. Spratt, Paul Jennings, Tristan Bancks, Belinda Murrell. This is just a smattering of the all-star line-up of authors for the last of the four collections, Stories for 8 Year Olds.

Editor of the series, Linsay Knight shares her thoughts on the stories chosen for the eight-year-old readership. ‘With burgeoning confidence and feeling increasingly comfortable with fewer illustrations and smaller type, these readers are eager to try out their skills on a range of different genres.’

Once again, 11 stories have been chosen from a smorgasbord of Australian authors, and they’re not all prose. Gruesome Grandads and Nasty Nans, with its shades of Roald Dahl, is a story written in verse.

There are many weird and wacky stories, none so different as the UFD - the Unidentified Flying Dog. Colin Thompson’s, A Giant called Norman Mary, is written with delicious exaggeration where giants roamed the land eating bicycle seats and haystacks as they ‘reached up into the sky and pulled down a star and by its light they picked their way across the world.’ Exaggeration is also the tool used in Toe, where Tom’s cruel sister Tanya could let saliva ‘drip right down to her bellybutton and still manage to vacuum it back up.’ It’s laugh-out-loud wicked humour.

Sometimes the point of view is that on an animal, as in Anita Bell’s Marom. A challenge is set up in Michael Pryor’s Say Cheese, where Phil builds a Santa display out of bits of junk that he declares, ‘the finest piece of engineering since the Pyramids.’

There’s great imagery in The Lachatim Dragon, where Lachie ‘could smell the distinctive rotting reek of bats’ as he and his friend explore a cavern for treasure.

Nanny Piggins is at her best in the Holistic Cake Healer as she gives free advice at the doctor’s surgery; after all, she has taken ‘the Hippopigic oath.’

And don’t forget to read about your favourite storytellers at the back of the book. You’ll be amazed when you find out how many other books they have written. Enough to keep you reading until the cows come home!

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