Monday 27 June 2016

Gummshoes Mission #1: The Nobbled Numbskull

Gummshoes Mission #1: The Nobbled Numbskull by E.J. Gore (Coppertop Press) RRP $8.99 ISBN 978-0-9873708-8-4

Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe This 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 adults too.

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 website. 

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