Saturday 20 November 2021

Nerd Herd Outfoxed

Nerd Herd Outfoxed by Nathan Luff & Chris Kennett (Scholastic Australia) PB $14.99 ISBN 978 1 760974626

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Barny the Lamb has been kidnapped and taken to the den of Mrs Fox. His best friends, Shaama Llama Ding Dong and Billy the Kid decide to save him. But will they make it in time before their friend is a lamb dinner?


This book is the third in the Nerd Herd series. Barny the Lamb, Shaama Llama Ding Dong and Billy the Kid are meek and mild, but together they’re a herd.


Nathan Liff has written a cool, fun read, that keeps the reader page turning and laughing. The humour instantly appeals and the dialogue cleverly shows the internal thoughts of the characters and their personalities without telling. The voice is strong, and the story is told through the eyes of Barny the sheep. The characters are distinct and well rounded.  The sentences pace the story much like a movie reel. They rise and fall with the action. The page turns keep the reader hooked. Please, after you. Liff has masterfully delivered a story that is deceptively simple but this is hard to achieve. ‘Foxy? Like a fox?’ I asked. ‘No, foxy is an expression, it means you look really attractive.’


As the plot develops and grows, the reader is kept guessing. Mrs Fox is sort of crazy and driven by her love for Mr Fox who has mysteriously disappeared. This creates another hook for the reader. Where is Mr Fox? The opening two sentences captivate.  Last, you heard of me, I’d been snatched by a fox and carried off into the night. It’s Ok. Also, the use of questioning develops humour and speaks closely to the reader encouraging them to think and use their imagination.  ‘Mrs Fox, how about we play hide-and-seek?’ I asked.


Chris Kennett has done it again, delivered comical illustrations that are cartoon -like, full of action and expression. They play with the words and add extra layers of meaning by showing not telling. The characters’ personalities shine much like they are on stage. I particularly like how the illustrations take the fear away for a child of this age reading the story because we all know foxes eat cute animals and Kennett has balanced this well in the story. There is just enough to feel Barny the lamb or the chickens could be eaten,  but then the silliness of it all brings the laughs. Onomatopoeia adds sound effects and dramatizes events and humour. The cheeky cover is a hit, and at a glance we can see all the characters and it is super easy to guess the villain and the problem.

Nerd Herd Outfoxed, is a book for 6-9 years that allows the reader to escape into a world of fun. It can be read as a standalone or as part of the series. This is a book that can be a bedtime read that a parent would also love. Many children will enjoy this story. 

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