Total Quack Up!

Total Quack Up! is a new book hitting the shelves on the 11th of October 2018. It is a collection of short stories written by some of Australia’s most well known authors: Sally Rippin, Matt Stanton, Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks, Paul Jennings, Adrian Beck, Alex Miles, R. A. Spratt, Jacqueline Harvey and Oliver Phommavanh.

There was also a kids’ writing competition, where you could write your own short story and send it in to the team, and there were over a whooping 172 entries. The winner was Ella Wallace with a short story titled Who Blocked Up the Dunny?

These authors have worked hard, each creating a short story to contribute to this wonderful book going towards the Dymocks Children’s Charities, supporting children’s literacy by providing quality books to school age children in priority locations.

Below I have reviewed each of the stories in the collection.


How to Be a Superhero by Deborah Abela

When 8 year old Ann Small decides that she wants to climb the roof while playing superheros, all is fine, but when she decides to try to jump off the garage roof landing on the clothesline and swinging to launch herself in the pool, things quickly start to get out of hand, especially when she needs a hospital trip for a broken leg and a chin in need of stitches. Hopefully the superheroes game will stop now? This story takes 8 year old Ann on an exciting adventure. A great one for youngsters!

Deborah Abela is a well known writer whose books are being sold all over the world, with titles including The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee, Teresa A New Australian, New City, Grimsdon, The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen, Max Remy Superspy series, Jasper Zammit Soccer Legend, and the Ghost Club series.


The Pigs by Tristan Bancks

The Kings Bay Pigs soccer team is not all that good. Actually they currently hold the record for World’s Worst Junior Football Team. The last few games have gone stale, literally! 9-0, 16-0 and the worst, 27-0, each time their score has been 0!! Big fat 0!! But The Pigs aren’t the team that when they lose they burst into tears! They actually CELEBRATE! Like, what soccer team does that? And what soccer team puts their noses to the ground, and snuffles like pigs on all fours? But, when they tie with another team will they lose their tile, World’s Worst Junior Football Team? Read to see…

This book is a great read written by the funny Tristan Bancks, whose titles include The Fall, Two Wolves, My Life & Other Failed Experiments, My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up, Tom Weekly series, covering a range from crime and mystery to action, adventure, weird funny and gross.


Ratbagg by Adrian Beck

I have 5 things to tell you:

  1. My name is RATBagg (Rory Albert Thomas Bagg)
  2. I have pretty mild superpowers
  3. I am terrible at counting when it comes to lists!
  4. I own rats!
  5. The school principal (Principal Blart) is rat allergic!

When Ratbagg’s teacher, Ms. Cherry, said that the following day was class sharing day, the first thought that popped into his mind was… RATS! Not the expression, “rats!” His thought was that he could bring his pet rats, Dee, Daz and Digby, to school and surprise his friends for class sharing! NOT a good idea! The school principal is ALLERGIC to rats. As tension tightens when the principal walks in suddenly and Ratbagg loses, yes LOSES his pets, things start to turn crazy. REALLY CRAZY… But will RATBagg be kicked out of school? Read the story to find out what happens next! If you dare!

Adrian Beck writes funny and action stories for children, his titles including Stuff Happens – Dale, The Champion Charlies series, and the Kick it to Nick series co-authored with Shane Crawford, the Hawthorn Premiership hero.


Pet Sit Pandemonium; Operation Snowball by Jacqueline Harvey

When mum tells Tom that their grouchy neighbor wants him to go over and “look after her cat while she is away” Tom does not get happy! Fussy doesn’t even start to describe Mrs. Oldberg, the woman that has her front garden, no front lawn manicured! You’d bet her house is pitch perfect inside too, no doubt about that! The minute he walks in, he felt beautified! Her house was ship-shape condition, nothing on the floor, the books in order, everything neat and perfect! After he finishes the jobs of feeding the parrot and the cat he goes home feeling happy. A little later in the day, he goes back to check on the animals again. The second he walked through the front door, he is met by a ransacked house! What in the world has happened? The cats together! NOOOO! Not Snowball and Puss! Just to make matters worse, he hears Mrs. Oldberg’s car roar up the drive. What is going to happen next?

Jacqueline Harvey is an AMAZING writer, one of Australia most popular, with 3 wonderful book series and is known worldwide for her Clementine Rose, Alice-Miranda, and her new Kensy and Max books.


A Mouthful by Paul Jennings

This short stories is about a Dad who always likes playing practical jokes when his daughter’s friends come over to stay. He plays jokes and tricks with cat poo on pillows, fake hands in the rubbish, pepper in the food, exploding drinks, short-sheeted beds and even blood coming out of his mouth.

When Cynthia, the school captain comes over for sleepover, there are NO JOKES TO BE PLAYED! The girls do their English homework and go over their speeches for the next morning, then Cynthia offers to do the washing up after dinner, then it’s time for bed. After the girls wash and change into their nighties, they walk into the bedroom. But as usual, dad puts plastic cat poop under the spare bed covers and then puts the cat on the pillow. When Cynthia pulls back the bed covers she screams, “the cat pooped on my pillow!” She screams and scream and screams! Then dad walks in, with a goofy grin on his face and picks up the poop with a “that’s nothing to worry about!”, and you’ll have to read to see what happens next…

This short story is funny and even a bit gross. Jokes are fun but this one will get you gagging! This story is by the award-winning author Paul Jennings. Paul has written lots of children’s books, short stories collections, picture books, novels, with the latest releases, A Different Dog, and The Unforgettable What’s His Name.


Undercover Pirate by Alex Miles

When Penny decides to have a P-themed party, her parents have an annoying rule: everyone in the class HAS to be invited! When the coolest boy in the class (Peter) arrives, everyone comes to meet him. All of Penny’s classmates are dressed as something starting with P, there was a pirate – Peter, twin princesses – the Harley girls,  a pineapple – Hamsa Shah and one of the boys – Jacob McFee – dressed up as a pinata and he gave everyone the impression that they could chase him with a stick. Penny dressed up as a Polish peanut-eating panda.

There were lots of fun games and cool things to do, but when Penny’s party bags go missing she suspects either Peter or her younger brother, Lenny, to have stolen them. So Penny decides to go on a treasure hunt to find her party bags. When Penny goes into the dining room, she sees their parrot on its perch resting peacefully. “Buster,” Lilly Polly tweets. Penny gasps. “Buster,” tweets Lilly Polly again! Does Penny have a talking bird? A thought strikes Penny: did Buster, their dog, take the party bags? What if he ate them?! The hunt’s on! Penny runs into the hall then into the garden, Buster is at his usual spot. “Please, tell me you haven’t eaten the party bags,” thinks Penny silently. Did Buster have anything to do with the party bags? What will happen next?

This short story is an adventure yet funny and comical at the same time. It is great for youngsters and it’s exciting.

Alex Miles is a great author and has written the beautiful Olive Black series and the Zac Power adventure series. Alex is a witty and bright author, full of imagination. I loved reading this story!


Rhyme Time! by Oliver Phommavanh

This short story is a poem about a poem, with the main character, Lengy, being very reluctant about poetry and writing poems. When Lengy’s teacher, Mr. Winfree, sets his class (7R5) the task of writing a poem about a colour, the children try to find rhyming words and everything becomes a silly rhyming affair. At his wits’ end, Mr. Winfree then sets the whole class the colour “orange”, but what rhymes with “orange”? Where do Lengy and his friend, Rajiv, take the idea and will they still hate poetry at the end of the class?

This short story is actually a poem with incidental rhyming words, it is hilarious and also has a bit of a surprise ending. Oliver Phommavanh writes stories that make you laugh and cry, his stories are funny and even a bit comical. Oliver is a children’s author, comedian and primary school teacher, known for his Punchlines, Con-Nerd, Thai-No-Mite, The Other Christy, Super Con-Nerd, and Thai-Riffic!


Do Not Open! by Sally Rippin

This book stars two main characters called Cassie and Ben, who are at their grandparents house during the summer holidays. A box is delivered to the front door with a “DO NOT OPEN!” sign on it, but Cassie is impatient and wants to open to box NOW! Ben being the older brother tries to stop Cassie but he is also curious to see what’s in the box. After peeling off the DO NOT OPEN! sign, they pull up the cardboard flaps to see what is inside. Everything in the box is in pieces… Cassie wants to fit the pieces together. What will be the end result? Will the kids be found out? Read this story for a good dose of laughter.

Sally Rippin is the author of the amazing book series Billie B BrownHey Jack!, Our Australian Girl and the new Polly and Buster. She has also written novels for children and for young adults and illustrated a big number of picture books. Sally is a proud ambassador for 100 Story Building, a creative centre for young writers. Recently she and her partner co-founded Story Peddlers, an ambulat performance space that pops out of a bike. Sally’s writing is witty and funny, and she has a very rich imagination. 


Pigerella by R.A. Spratt

This story features Nanny Piggins and the children, Derrick, Samantha and Michael, characters in the popular series, Nanny Piggins. When electricity is disconnected because their father hadn’t paid the bills, they find themselves in the darkness in front of a fire built by Nanny Piggins with their father’s law books. The kids are bored, but when Nanny Piggins starts to tell the a story about a pig called Pigerella and her 13 evil sisters, time passes so quickly.

R. A. Spratt is the author of the very popular Friday Barnes series, with the new Peski Kids series having been launched recently. She has also contributed to various TV shows and is one of the most popular writers in Australia.


What Hippopotamuses and Sharks Have in Common by Matt Stanton

What happens when Summer, a curious hippo, disregards the common understanding that hippopotamuses are NOT allowed to go to the beach and goes to the beach only to find it closed because of shark presence? And what happens when she takes the once in a lifetime opportunity to see a shark in the flesh? Will Wilbur the shark eat her and the other beach goers, or will he keep his word and abide by his vegetarian mantra?

Matt Stanton is a best-selling Australian author who writes children’s books, including the Funny Kid series and the Fart Monster series.


Who Blocked Up the Dunny? by Ella Wallace

This story was the winner of the Total Quack Up competition out of a staggering 172 submissions. It is about two siblings, Kerry, the older one babysitting Jackson, who have to figure out how to unblock the “dunny” before the rest of the family comes home. It is very much a question of “WHO blocked the dunny” as well as of “WHAT blocked the dunny”. The solution and the outcome are questionable… and what comes after the end of the story is left to your imagination!

The story is funny and Ella did a great job with the first title she got published!


All these short stories are very well written by some of Australia’s best authors. I really loved this collection of funny stories and hope to read more books by these writers. I would recommend Total Quack Up! to primary school students around years 2-6. The stories in this book are daring and adventurous. Thank you to all the authors who contributed great material for this charitable event, the stories are fantastic! This book totally quacked me up!

If you would like to watch a video of Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck announcing the Total Quack Up Competition, you can do so here:


If you would like to watch a video of Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck announcing the winner of the Total Quack Up Kids Writing Competition, you can watch it below:





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