Monday 24 July 2023

Crash Landing – Family Disasters

Crash Landing – Family Disasters: Book 1 by Nathan Luff (Scholastic), RRP $15.99 Middle Grade ISBN 9-781761-122729

Reviewed by Susan Hancy

Jakob is well aware that he's not one of the cool kids at school. He knows how it feels to be laughed at and he's learnt from experience that it's best to not draw attention to himself. That means not acting like his worrywart Scrooge of a father and his socially awkward, laughs-like-a-donkey-braying mother. And it certainly means not being caught together with Jodie, the weirdest girl in school. She dresses up like a snail and obsesses over Jakob as her future husband. Unfortunately, as the daughter of her Mum's best friend, Jodie is tied at the hip to Jakob and part of his extended family. After a super embarrassing family dinner out where the waiter, one of Jakob’s “cool” classmates, sees wedding photo evidence of Jakob and Jodie along with being “snotted” on by Jakob's mum, Jakob is certain that he can’t return to school any time soon.  The solution? Lay low by flying out of the country on a family holiday under the pretext of worrywart Dad needing some relaxation to avoid a heart attack. 


Jakob manages to convince his parents that the holiday package he has found is a great idea and a great bargain. Catch 1: it’s a package for four and his parents decide to include Jodie. Catch 2: the airline is particularly budget. It’s so budget that they lack any safety standards for their four (only) passengers and when the duct tape flies off the plane wing they crash into the Pacific Ocean. Luckily, all four passengers and the nutcase pilot manage to make it to a volcanic island where they encounter a group of castaways who've been waiting three years to be rescued. Jakob sees this as an opportunity to reinvent himself to be cool amongst a group of kids who don't know his background. But a series of calamities and backfiring attempts to impress do little to hide his and his family’s embarrassing traits. Facing near drowning when the volcano erupts, Jodie reveals her heartbreaking reason for associating herself with snails and Jakob is driven to embrace his and his family’s weirdness when he realises that he doesn't want to die with his parents thinking of him as selfish and ungrateful.


This is a fast-paced chapter book with something going wrong on almost every page turn and plenty of snot, vomit and farts. I can imagine upper primary grade boys loving this story and groaning out loud. With short chapters and expressive illustrations by Chris Kennett, it's an easy, fun read for even reluctant readers. 

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