Saturday 13 June 2020

Eddy Popcorn’s Guide to Parent Training

Eddy Popcorn’s Guide to Parent Training by Dee White, illustrated by Ben Johnston (an Omnibus Book from Scholastic Australia) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9781743834022

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

With a title such as this, and a first sentence under ‘Day 1 Saturday’ that reads ‘The sun crawls across my face like a MUTANT OCTOPUS’ as well as black and white cartoon illustrations, young readers know they are going to be in for a lot of laughs. It’s the first day of the school holidays and Eddy’s about to turn twelve – what an awesome time he’s about to have in the next 384 hours of FREEDOM. However, things don’t go as planned when Mum and Dad come into Eddy’s bedroom full of frowns about the state of his untidy room. “‘You’re grounded Edward Poppenhagen (aka Eddy Popcorn),’ say his parents. ‘You’re not leaving this house and there will be no recreational screen time until your book reflections are done properly,’ says Mum.” (Wouldn’t you know it, Eddy’s mum is a police officer!)

Upset and frustrated at this situation, Eddy realises that resistance is futile. Instead of getting to work, he decides to write a book, an essential guide to parent training, with numerous tips for kids to help them with difficult parents. From then on, Eddy’s book is filled with comments such as ‘if they’re so interested in your homework, why don’t they do it THEMSELVES – and save you the trouble?’ His dad says Eddy’s bedroom is ‘an absolute PIGSTY… it reeks like a garbage tip’, but a survey of Dad’s garage (with an itemised list), shows that Dad’s special space is full of rubbish. Eddy suggests a garage sale might be a good idea.

“To train a parent,’ says Eddy, ‘you have to understand they are an alien race.’ His guide includes things such as how to cope with a dad (like his) who picks their nose in public or a mum (like his) who complains of loud music. Eddy addresses a wide range of subjects in his helpful holiday antidotes (such as zany zit anecdote and fabulous food anecdote). His guide – filled with lists and humorous suggestions ranges widely from pocket money to distracting your parents to getting parents not to buy you gross clothing. All the time, though, what Eddy most wants is to hang out with his mates Macca and Damo and to enjoy his forthcoming laser tag birthday.

At the end of his book, Eddy says he has tried to cover as many scenarios as possible and provide mostly practical, effective suggestions. ‘This book,’ he writes, ‘is your secret weapon.’ At the end of it is a suggested reading list, acknowledgements, and a glossary. That he’s successful is shown by the reactions of his fellow bus travellers on the first day back to school. How everyone know about his guide is as much as a shock for Eddy as it is for the reader.

There is so much fun in this hint-packed book and lots of laughs. Young readers will no doubt nod their heads at Eddy’s philosophies and views on life. The pages ‘shout out’ with different sized fonts and terrific illustrations.

This book would suit readers aged 8 to 11 years.

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