Knife & Packer (authors)
Scholastic, Australia: June 2010; 93pp
Genres: adventure, graphic novel, humour
As the warning at the front of the book says, this book contains: 'a house that's been turned into a massive frog; a close-up of a giant's cheesy foot; and dragon with a breath so bad it could melt a magic wand.' You'll also find a family of wizards who have to travel back to medieval times to replace the vital staff that is the source of all their magic.
On their arrival they discover that a Very Grumpy Dragon has kidnapped all the villagers including the wizard who makes the magical staffs. The only thing to do is rescue everybody – a quest that means defeating a fearsome giant, amongst other things.
The Freak Street series is an interesting combination graphic novel and early chapter book. There are brightly coloured graphics on every page and cartoon-style character drawings that will amuse readers who prefer a highly visual text. These images – and the speech bubbles – interact with the text, adding to the narrative without totally explaining it. This will encourage visual readers to attempt the typed text, which is a maximum of half a page, more usually a short paragraph or a few lines. What is particularly important is that Knife and Packer haven't simplified the vocabulary. These are books for reluctant readers, not those who actually have difficult decoding words.
Puns, really good 'bad' jokes and clever ideas abound to amuse the gifted child and there are some intertextual references to tickle the funniosity of any adult trying to encourage a reluctant reader.
'Cleaning is so much easier when you have a washing-up lad and lady of the lake!
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