Thursday 21 November 2013

Saurus Street

Saurus Street by Nick Falk and Tony Flowers (Random House Australia)
PB RRP $12.95
Saurus Street 5: A Plesiosaur Broke My Bathtub
ISBN 9780857981820
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9780857980540

Saurus Street 6: A Diplodocus Trampled My Teepee
ISBN 9780857981844
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9780857981851
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

After reviewing the first two Saurus Street books a short while ago, what fun it is to read the next set of adventures.

With a great opening sentence ‘There are three reasons I’m scared of Granny and Grandad’s outdoor loo …’, I was hooked. Suddenly, visions of dark nights, scary sounds and creepy crawlies brought back childhood memories. Some things never change.

In Book 5, A Plesiosaur Broke My Bathtub, we’re creeping around with 9 year-old Thomas as he gathers the courage to go to the outside loo in the middle of the night. Granny and Grandad’s ‘creaky old cabin’ is built over a sinkhole in a swamp that’s connected to Saurus Lake, so a bottomless outdoor toilet is a spooky place to go.

Thomas has a powerful imagination. One dismal, windy night he falls down the toilet into its ‘murky darkness below.’ The only thing Thomas can do is swim through the yuck, through a tunnel and into Lake Saurus. His rollicking adventure begins when he is hooked on a fishing line by a red-haired girl called Molly. She thinks he is ‘as mad as a box of frogs.’

Molly is fishing for squid to feed Ellie, the Loch Saurus Monster (a plesiosaur).

As readers of Nick Falk’s Saurus Street books handle a single plot, Falk weaves in a riotous sub-plot. The Reverend Parsnip and his wife, Priscilla, are planning on taking over the lake and building a hideous fishing lodge.

Thomas and Molly join forces and imaginations. They devise a plan to ‘pull the plug’ to save not only the lake, but also its shy inhabitant, Ellie the Plesiosaur.

Nick Falk is a whizz with words. He uses lots of vibrant verbs: twist, warble, squiggle, spike and each takes the font shape of its sound, which not only reads well, but adds a visual dimension and extra context to the sentences.

Chapter headings are fun as well. Who wouldn’t want to read Meet the Parsnips or Something Alive Down There …

There’s plenty of white space on each page and Tony Flowers’ hilarious illustrations reinforce key elements as you read. The facial expressions and body language connect you directly to the story.

And we’re left with the question, how do Granny’s VOLCANIC ginger snap biscuits save the day?

Book 6, A Diplodocus Trampled My Teepee, continues the high jinks in Saurus Street. This time, Toby and Jack are camping at Camp Saurus. They play ‘Imagineering’ and make up outrageous stories about the things they find.

They find a marble that is really the magic eyeball of Captain Saurus, a legendary pirate whose ship was made from dinosaur bones. The eyeball unleashes a curse that brings dinosaurs back to life.

While there’s curious scratching noises from their teepee a huge head rises over the treetops. It’s a diplodocus and pandemonium breaks out. The boys have to find a way to reverse the curse. Jack’s ‘scary sister’ Saffi joins them. The boys don’t know which is more fearsome, the dinosaurs or Saffi.

Toby places the magic eyeball over his own eye, like a pirate patch. Amazingly, he sees like a pirate. There’s a map tucked away in the eyeball. To reverse the curse, they have to find where X marks the spot!

There are dinosaurs on the loose everywhere. Jack, Toby and Saffi end up riding a dinosaur, rodeo-style, to escape the stampede. They fall through a crack in the earth and end up at the bottom of a canyon guarded by ‘one-eyed Rex’, the most terrifying of Captain Saurus’ dinosaur crew.

They find where X marks the spot and have to work out how to reverse the dinosaur curse. There’s lots of frantic, clever puzzle solving done just in the nick of time as they’re about to become snacks for a raging tyrannosaurus rex.

These Saurus Street books are an imagination starter. That’s what I love about them. Not only are you romping around in such a creative stories, you’re using your imagination as you go. With the winning partnership of Falk and Flowers, readers 6+ will devour these books with dinosaur appetites.

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