Tag Archives: humorous fiction

You Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car – Patricia Cleveland-Peck and DavidTazzyman


Bloomsbury Publishing

August 2022

ImprintBloomsbury Children’s Books

RRP: $14.99

We all know that kiddos love absurd humour and this book fits that bill to a T. I shared this one with a Prep class who were all pretty much shrieking with laughter all the way through it.

This is a hilarious look at sports, most of which the children will likely be very familiar, but put into the most ridiculous of contexts. Hippos doing high jump, octopuses playing table tennis or warthogs tossing footballs – as you can imagine, disaster lurks at every turn.

In case you’ve missed this rib-tickling series already, do yourself a favour and check them all out – better yet, put them on your orders list!

Also available: You Can’t Let an Elephant on the BusYou Can’t Let an Elephant Drive a DiggerYou Can’t Call an Elephant in an Emergency and You Can’t Take an Elephant on Holiday. Collect them all!

Highly recommended for small humans who love to giggle from around 3 years upwards.

Jinny & Cooper – Tania Ingram



Penguin Random House


February 1, 2016



This is my first taste of the Jinny & Cooper series but it certainly won’t be my last! And it’s already on my ‘read aloud’ list for Miss Small, my library and relief teaching days!

When Tania’s young daughter first asked her to write about a magical guinea pig, I suspect she had no idea that what would evolve would be a very successful series with appeal to a wide audience.

A question asked of me recently by a couple of parents was regarding fun reads for younger children who have moved on from the beginning chapter books but not yet ready for something beyond their capabilities. This is a series that will fit that bill perfectly and on my notes to buy all for next year’s budget.

Jinny has always wanted a guinea pig but she imagined something golden brown, soft and cuddly and above all, sweet. Little did she expect to end up with something that looks like an unkempt doormat with a real attitude and the power of speech amongst other things.

In this adventure, Cooper fingers Jinny’s seemingly kind teacher Miss Bunney as a nasty witch. Of course, this just seems ridiculous – but is it? Armed with salt and potato charms Jinny, her brother Tyrone and Cooper go into battle with one very unpleasant elderly teacher.

Boys and girls alike will delight in this series and no doubt will be scouring petshops for talking guinea pigs who eat a lot of junk food!

Recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

Read more about Tania and the series here.

How to Stop an Alien Invasion Using Shakespeare – Nick Falk & Tony Flowers



ISBN: 9780143780328

Published: 28/03/2016

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s


RRP $14.99

Hast thou ever feared the imminent arrival of strange googly-eyed alien monsters? Dost thou fret over total destruction of the known world by hideous extra-terrestrials of extraordinary ugliness?

You may rest assured that the solution is at hand. Join Sid, his little sister Wendy and evil-genius neighbour aka the Mighty Professor Skeletron as they thwart an alien invasion caused by Sid’s astounding adaptation of Romeo & Juliet for a school assignment.

When Mr Pilchard, Sid’s vile teacher, threatens the class and especially Sid of dire consequences should they not produce their best piece of creative writing ever, Sid seeks inspiration and advice from the evil-genius. Mighty Professor Skeletron’s psychic cat directs Sid’s attention to the works of Shakespeare, greatest writer of all time.

The trouble lies in the fact that Sid makes his story just too similar to the original and mayhem ensues as he reads aloud his prize-winning story instigating a chain of events that sees the intrepid trio travelling in time via potato power to redress the catastrophe. Changing the course of history has never been so simple or so hilarious!

Kids from around 8 and up will love this latest offering from the talented Falk and Flowers duo. Highly recommended for your primary library shelves!

Please Open This Book – Adam Lehrhaupt/Matthew Forsythe



Simon & Schuster Australia

  • Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • 40 pages |
  • ISBN 9781442450714
  • October 2015

List Price

AU$ 24.99

NZ$ 27.99


The expression ‘more fun than a barrel of monkeys’ has never been as evident as in this crazy chaotic new picture book from the duo who brought you Warning, Do Not Open This Book!.

Completely giggle-making for young readers, a bunch of monkeys plus a few assorted others are trapped inside a book which has been closed by a ruthless child. The only way to rescue them is to turn the pages and release the mayhem. But wait! By turning the pages the reader draws ever closer to the end – and the book will be closed again! ARGGGHHH!

With an irresistible power given to the reader, with the monkeys’ impassioned pleas to be kept unrestrained, this book will thoroughly engage readers from preschool up.

The striking illustrations are digitally composed and the black backgrounds (well after all it IS dark inside a closed book!) are relieved by primarily earth-toned compositions.

This pair’s first book was an E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor Book and received much praise.  This is definitely in every way its equal.
Visit Adam’s website here to find out more about the author and watch the book trailer.


Highly recommended for your small humans up to around age 8 (or older ones who love a giggle!).  Start your own campaign now – SAVE THE MONKEYS!




Awesome Animal Stories for Kids – Aleesah Darlison



ISBN: 9780857989680

Published: 01/12/2015

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

Extent: 208 pages

– RRP $14.99

One thing we know as teacher-librarians is that you can never have too many animal stories. Younger readers especially eat up such tales whether crazy, realistic, whimsical or humorous. This new collection from Aleesah Darlison covers all those bases and with a text that is ideally suited to newly independent readers who are enjoying their first foray into chapter books.

Kasey rescues and nurtures a baby magpie, Grandpapa Cat tells his grandkittens the legend of Alvarado, King of Cats, we find out what happened next to Puff the Magic Dragon, Princess Pigletta is pignapped and so much more! Any young reader will enjoy the imaginatively told animal adventures in this collection and they would be ideally suited to the short ‘read aloud’ times after breaktimes.

This much-published award-winning author has definitely come up trumps with this fun anthology of 12 stories. Highly recommended for your shelves for both boys and girls of around 7 years up.

Check out Aleesah’s website here for more info about her, her books, author talks, resources and news.




The Vanilla Slice Kid – Adam Wallace & Jack Wodhams. Illustrated by Tom Gittus



Ford St Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-925272-02-4
Publication date: 1 October 2015
Extent: 144 pages
Price: AUD$14.95

Well it’s clear we have our own contender to usurp Roald Dahl in the list of favourites for readers who love wacky and fantastical stories!

When Archie Cunningham is born, it is apparent to his parents – a disgustingly greedy and vile pair of individuals – that their unwelcome baby had a very surprising superpower. Perhaps it had something to do with the revolting Mrs Cunningham stuffing down every form of cake she could lay her fat hands on during her pregnancy but perhaps it is just one of the enduring mysteries of the world. Whichever it is, immediately after his arrival young Archie produces tiny chocolate cupcakes from the palms of his hands! So despite the fact that his parents have not the slightest interest in their baby or a child at all, they are avariciously interested in his potential as a provider of the world’s most delicious pastries.

Fast forward five years which have been lonely and isolated ones for Archie and his talent re-emerges after extreme provocation from his parents. They continue to ignore him as a child and look on him solely as a secret money making machine, providing the best edible delicacies on the market.  But when finally Archie is allowed to go to school, his bizarre talent is revealed and all hell breaks loose.

Secret agents, a megalomaniacal General, children collected for their unusual and special talents, Archie’s life does not seem destined to get much better. Except for one thing – Archie finds some real friends and though the odds look bad for them all, they prove that together they are stronger than any crazy bullies.

This is a read which fairly gallops along at an amazing pace. And while the reader feels most sorry for Archie there is no doubt that there are many real belly laughs throughout as the ridiculous situations and grotesque caricatures continue.

Definitely a winner for either boys or girls from around 8 years up, this is one to add to your shelves for sure!

Samurai vs Ninja (#1 & #2) – Nick Falk & Tony Flowers


Samurai vs Ninja 1: The Battle for the Golden Egg – Nick Falk & Tony Flowers

ISBN: 9780857986054

Published: 01/04/2015

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

Extent: 96 pages


Samurai vs Ninja 2: The Race for the Shogun’s Treasure

ISBN: 9780857986368

Published: 01/04/2015

Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s

Extent: 96 pages


RRP: $9.99

From the dynamic duo that brought us the Billy is a Dragon and Saurus Street series – much loved by your younger readers no doubt! – comes this hilarious new offering with some extremely loopy characters.

Full of antics and situations which will have huge appeal to those children setting out on their beginning chapter books journey; these stories relate the ongoing skirmishes between the rival ninjas and samurais with laugh-out-loud humour. Readers will relish moments such as ‘It’s raining ninja poo!’ and ‘..so she’d snuck into his room and put wasabi in his undies’.

In volume #1, the crazy warriors are both angling for Japan’s greatest treasure – the fabled Golden Egg. Cheating and revenge tactics abound as neither team play fair.

The #2 episode sees the manic factions facing off again when the Great Bear is stolen from Edo Castle and the shogun promises a great honour to whoever can find his prized possession.

While written in a fashion that will draw in those newly independent readers there is a great opportunity to expand vocabulary including some Japanese language – ably explained in a glossary at the end of each book.

Flowers’ cartoon illustrations are a terrific adjunct to readers  with their speech bubbles adding punch to each punch line delivered.

These are exactly the sorts of stories that could be the basis of some creative writing as students come up with their own wacky adventures for the Japanese crazies.

Highly recommended for younger readers aged around 6 and up.

Q&A with Nick Earls



My first Nick Earls read was ’48 Shades of Brown’ when it was shortlisted for the Children’s Book of the Year awards in 2000. I hadn’t laughed so much reading a novel for a long time and I was instantly hooked. I soon learned that Nick Earls had published some novels for adults and was on a mission.  Oh my……talk about laughter being the best medicine!  I have just reviewed Nick’s new novel for adults ‘Analogue Men: a novel’ and without doubt, the humour just gets crisper and never, ever disappoints.

I have had the great good fortune to hear Nick speak and converse with him on several occasions and trust me, his lively wit is not confined to his written words.


Nick Earls is the author of novels including The FixZigzag StreetBachelor Kisses, The True Story of Butterfish and Perfect Skin and the collection of short storiesWelcome To Normal. His work has been published internationally in English and in translation. Zigzag Street won a Betty Trask Award in the UK in 1998, and Perfect Skin was the only novel nominated for an Australian Comedy Award in 2003. 48 Shades of Brown was awarded Book of the Year (older readers) by the Children’s Book Council of Australia in 2000, and in the US it was a Kirkus Reviews selection in its books of the year for 2004. 48 Shades of Brown and Perfect Skin have been adapted into feature films, with Solo un Padre, the film adapted from the Italian edition of Perfect Skin, a top-ten box office hit in Italy in 2008. After January48 Shades of BrownZigzag Street and Perfect Skin have all been successfully adapted for theatre, and the Zigzag Street play toured nationally in 2005. The True Story Of Butterfish was also performed as a play. He recently published a collection of stories Welcome To Normal.

Courtesy Random House Australia

Earls, Nick - credit Sarah Garvey

Credit: Sarah Garvey

It gives me the greatest pleasure to have this blog interview with Nick Earls and I do hope you enjoy it as well.

Nick Earls, welcome to Just So Stories!


1.    Nick, I know you were born in Ireland and came to Australia aged around 9 – and I certainly wouldn’t hold that against you. In fact, it’s possibly why you have a gift for telling a good story. Perhaps you might tell us a little about your early life?

It was a strange mixture – an idyllic rural upbringing in a place affected by sectarian violence. We had pigs and were surrounded by fields of barley and potatoes, but if we went into the bigger towns we were stopped and searched at military road blocks. My first thought about Brisbane was that it wasn’t safe, since it didn’t have the army on its streets.

2.    I think most people know that you trained and practised as a GP (although I still struggle at times to imagine you as the family doctor!). How did the metamorphism from jovial GP to hilarious author come about?

Slowly. Writing looked like a precarious career choice, so I had close to ten years of part-time medicine and part-time writing. In 1998, I had book tours to do in two countries and the writing took over.

3.    When did you first think you might be more successful as an author than you were as a doctor (trick question, be careful how you answer!) ;-)?

They’re apples and oranges. The difference was I liked medicine and I love writing. It’s something I want to do forever. So, even if success in the two somehow could be compared, that wasn’t really the question I was asking. Does that sound appropriately evasive?

4.    Your novels revolve around Brisbane – obviously something which resonates with those of us who also live here. Why do you choose to focus on Brisbane and what is it about Brisbane life that you most enjoy?

I resisted it at first, since very few people seemed to be writing novels about contemporary Brisbane. In the end, stories have to happen somewhere, and my kinds of stories have to happen somewhere real. So, having failed at faking my way into writing about other places, I let Brisbane in. It turned out that that allowed me to draw on its details, and at the same time direct my creative work to characters and story. It turns out that, if you write about people, people anywhere can read it, even if you’ve set your stories in a specific place.

5.    You first came to my attention when as a teacher-librarian, I picked up ’48 Shades of Brown’ the year it was short-listed as CBC Book of the Year – Older Readers. Can you tell us about the book’s genesis?

I’d written After January, and thought I might write something set at the start of year 12. I decided I wanted to write about a character pushed out of his comfort zone. Sending Dan’s parents out of the country and him to Jacq’s place seemed like a good start. I was working in medical editing at the time and edited an article on OCD. I decided to give Dan some obsessionality, but not make too much of it. Then I started thinking, ‘Who’s the third housemate, and what can I get out of them?’ The rest came from there.

6.    After I read ’48 Shades of Brown’ I happened to next a) pick up a copy of ‘Bachelor Kisses’ b) have the extreme good fortune to hear your guest talk at a Boys & Reading gig in Brisbane. We had some discussion about the more risqué moments in that novel, throughout which I had laughed uproariously. Then last year we had another conversation about the Word Hunters series. Clearly your gift for writing transfers across adult, young adult and children’s fiction. Is one or the other more appealing to you? What inspires you to write any given story?

If I’m excited about the story, I’m happy to write it, and along the way work out who the readership might be. With Word Hunters, I loved the research and planning most. When it comes to the writing, the thing I probably enjoy most right now is writing shorter fiction for adults. The commerciality of that choice is debatable though. I loved writing Welcome to Normal in 2010-2011.

7.    How do your characters develop – because they are all quite distinctive? Are they all purely fictional or do you slyly pick up aspects from real life?

I want them to feel real so, if the real world offers me something, I don’t ignore it. I don’t just drop it into the story though. I try to work out what it is I’ve responded to and come up with something fictional that’ll have the same effect. If it’s happened to me, it can go straight in. I think one of the keys is taking time to let characters develop, working out who they are and how they speak, and what they’re going to bring to the story. For me, that happens before the writing.

8.    As far as the process of writing, what is your favoured approach? What does your work day and work space look like?

I’m a big planner. By the time I sit down to write a novel, it’s a 20,000 word outline. Then I sit there writing the novel into the outline. From the first idea to day one of writing is usually a few years. The first draft takes place over a few months and, when I’m doing that, it’s just about all the work I do.

9.    Which authors, genres or characters have resonance with you personally?

Spalding Gray’s Monster in a Box showed me an internal voice that felt compellingly real, and like eavesdropping on someone’s thoughts. Richard Ford showed me how to meticulously weigh up details to work out which deliver the story in the most powerful and invisible way.

10.  What advice would you give would-be writers?

Read. Think. Even when you don’t have writing time, you’ll often have thinking time. Make notes when you’re thinking. And don’t get too frustrated. The thinking is writing, as much as the typing part is.

11.  Of which of your books or achievements are you proudest and why?

It’s not something my books tend to make me feel. If there’s one thing, it’s taking on a major role in anthologies that raised $3million for War Child. It doesn’t occur to me to feel pride about the books, since writing them is at heart a self-indulgent act. I’m very lucky to do a job that works that way.

12.  What are you currently reading?

I’m a few pages into The Promise by Tony Birch.

13.  What is next for Nick Earls?

Some novellas, I hope. And perhaps a TV series. And I’m working on a children’s book for next year.

14.  What is the worst thing about being a successful author?

The possibility of becoming an unsuccessful author all too easily.

15.  What would you like your epitaph to be?

I’ve got over a million words in print. It’s my great relief that that’s one line I can leave to other people.


Nick Earls, it has been such a pleasure and I thank you for your time!