Sunday 9 August 2015

Little Lunch: The Off-Limits Fence

Little Lunch: The Off-Limits Fence by Danny Katz, illustrated by Mitch Vane (black dog books)
PB RRP $ 9.95
ISBN 9781742032375

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Little Lunch: The Off-Limits Fence is the sixth installment of this exceptionally popular chapter book series. It is released to coincide with the July release of its television show on ABC3, which will be 26, 15 minute episodes.

With three stories in the book, each story is about what happens during the 15 minute snack break in a primary school playground. In The Bench that Goes in a Circle around the Big Old Tree the five friends play Chinese whispers about why Max and Elsa went home from school that morning.  Language chaos ensues as hearing is distorted then related in a grossly exaggerated form. It is hilarious and gross. Exactly what 8 year olds love to read.

The Equipment Shed sees Max and Elsa having a snail race. Battie is next to the equipment shed watching a cobweb. Manny and Amber are in a pip spitting competition. Melanie Applebum is eating an apple as she watches Battie watching the cobweb, waiting for the spider to come and eat the fly that is caught in the web. All Melanie can think of is saving the fly. This sets off a chain of events that involves all the children with incredible results.

Rory is running with the footy accompanied by a commentary in The Off-Limits Fence. He manages a superb kick but the ball falls beyond the back fence which is off limits. What happens now? Will zombie-aliens get the ball? Has he lost the ball for good? He can’t stop the images going around in his head and certainly can’t imagine the outcome, no matter how many guesses he has.

Mitch Vane’s illustrations are true to the characters, their antics, and the text. There is a seamless unity between the two creators’ work that makes the outcome so successful. The gross bits are really gross. That adds to the fun. This is illustrated fiction at its best. These books are ideal for difficult or early readers, and they’ll be hooked from the first title.

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