Mission #1: The Nobbled Numbskull by E.J. Gore
(Coppertop Press) RRP $8.99 ISBN 978-0-9873708-8-4
Reviewed by Elizabeth VercoeThis first book in the Australian series
of adventures by the Gummshoe Gang has a big heart. It contains a familiar,
important message hidden in the question of just who IS sabotaging the school’s
star soccer player (and erstwhile bully) Nits – and why?
We are rapidly introduced to a large
cast of characters including the ‘nerdy’ Frankie and Ollie who befriend a
younger, also ‘nerdy’ Alex, and welcome him into the Gummshoe Gang. Together
and separately, the three deals with challenging situations that are translatable
to most school playgrounds. There’s something for most kids in this
story that centres on school and football, with a mystery to be solved and
bullies to be thwarted. Unrequited tween love also makes an appearance, and the
realisation that things are not always as they seem among children, and among
Author and primary school teacher EJ
Gore’s own mission to equip young people with strategies for social inclusion,
dealing with bullies and standing up for the ‘right’ thing, is a generous one
that works. The characters recognise and build on their own strengths in a way
that opens up possibilities for young readers’ own lives. These skills touch on
the ideas of being a good friend, harnessing resilience and solving problems.
Gore’s gentle, humour-laden writing style reveals a thorough knowledge of her
readership and what will have them entertained.
After initially having to re-read the
opening in order to be clear about ‘who was saying what’, I was transported
into the world of the book where I willingly stayed for
the duration. There’s a lovely balance between mystery and drama in this story
that will appeal to both boys and girls.
The end pages feature a word-search
puzzle, and children are invited to become part of the Gummshoe Gang via a