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:





Kensy and Max: Disappearing Act

Kensy and Max: Disappearing Act is written by Australian author Jacqueline Harvey and is published by Penguin Random House Australia. Jacqueline Harvey is an award-winning author, who has written many books and several exciting series. This book series was illustrated by J. Yi. Kensy and Max: Disappearing Act is book number 2 in the KENSY AND MAX Series.

Kensy and Max Grey, 11 years old twins, have spent time in London where they had some scary adventures, a near abduction and parents gone missing. Now they are agents-in-training at an international spy network and they feel there are secrets all around them, especially with their parents still missing. They welcome a break for Christmas and look forward to some quiet time and chillax, but it’s not meant to be! They end up in Rome for a school excursion and they find a boy who’s been kidnapped by some organisation worse than even Mafia! And it looks like Kensy, Max and their Pharos friends will have to solve this problem themselves as the teachers are involved in a bigger mission.

But the children have their own challenges on top of the Diavolo gang. Their manny, Fitz, and their uncle Rupert, go away to look for Kensy and Max’s missing parents, so the children are left on their own. They try to take the boy back to his mum so the Diavolo gang wouldn’t hurt him and prevent the gang from taking control of Italy’s food supply chain.

Then something exciting occurs at the Vatican as Kensy and Max are visiting a church with their school friends. The plot only thickens from now on…

Join Kensy and Max in Rome and follow them on an exciting mystery! If you would like to find out in more details what happens and how their adventure ends, pick up a copy of this amazing book and read to the end.

This book is a great read, exciting and full of nail-biting suspense! I love this book because of all the action and adventure. I couldn’t stop reading it to the very end. This book was released earlier this month and is a great one for school students in upper primary. Thanks Jacqueline for another amazing book!

If you would like to read the review of Kensy and Max: Breaking News (the first book) you can click here.

Alice-Miranda in Scotland

Alice-Miranda in Scotland is written by Jacqueline Harvey and illustrated by J. Yi.

It is book  number 17 from the ALICE-MIRANDA Series.

Alice-Miranda and friends are visiting Scotland to attend the Queen’s Colours Youth Leadership Program, and they will be joined by some old friends from earlier books. But, as you would expect, things don’t always go as planned. Alice-Miranda’s invitation gets misplaced and she isn’t sure she can attend, until her friend, Millie, saves the day and sorts things out.

However, as Alice-Miranda is making  new friends, enjoying her sight-seeing and participating in fun activities, she has a funny feeling nagging at her, and she is determined to find out what is going on. She is ready to learn new skills and conquer the challenges that they face, as well as settle a few fiery feuds between friends!

The youth program is being run by some interesting characters including, Miss Cranna, who has a mysterious and dark secret, Miss Stuart who is very bad tempered, and Mr Ferguson, who speaks a little funny sometimes. The tournament reaches its climax and tempers start to fray when the friends go on a scavenger hunt that turns out to be an escape situation!

While we read this book, we become even more curious to discover what Miss Cranna’s secret is and why/where she is going in the middle of the night. Is there maybe another reason that these particular children were chosen for the youth program? If you want to find out more, then pick up a copy of this amazing, glamorous story and read this exciting adventure today.

Jacqueline Harvey has gotten her readers used to Alice-Miranda’s resourcefulness by now. As the beloved character is easily making friends with her kindness, openness, generosity and bubbly personality, we also came to expect that Alice-Miranda is saving the day and setting things right. Will this be true for Alice-Miranda’s adventure in Scotland?

I very much enjoyed Alice-Miranda in Scotland as it is a captivating, action-packed and well written story, with a very satisfying plot and unexpected conclusion. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone between 8 and 14 (but my mum also sneak-peaked and read it when I wasn’t looking). Now I’m looking forward to Alice-Miranda’s next adventure in book number 18.

If you would like to see Jacqueline Harvey read a fragment of Alice-Miranda in Scotland during the book launch at Dymocks on June 2, you can watch it below:

Kensy and Max: Breaking News

Breaking News  is the first book in KENSY AND MAX series written by the Australian author, Jacqueline Harvey, and illustrated by J. Yi.

Kensy and Max Grey are 11 years old twins who have been travelling all their life, always moving to a different place after a few months. They are taken to London by their manny only to find that their parents are missing and that they are in quite a pickle. Their life will never be the same again. As they go on a quest to find their parents there are so many things that don’t add up: their school friends, the people on their street, the coded and encrypted messages they keep finding, their continuously buzzing watches, and they feel like there are secrets all around them.

When Kensy and Max are nearly kidnapped, they know that things are going to get stranger. When Kensy sees what she thinks is one of the bizarre grandmas doing flips, splits, handstands and cartwheels one night, then a robbery a few days later, she knows something isn’t quite right. As things become stranger and stranger, they start to find more and more bizarre newspaper clippings and messages, and they think that there is a chance for their parents to be alive!

Kensy is very competitive, really good at science and knows her way around any machine, while Max is very perceptive, and has an amazing photographic memory. The twins pair these skills with Kensy’s ability to pick locks and Max’s ability to crack codes in order to get out of trouble and find their way to the other side of this mystery.

Will Kensy and Max uncover the truth about their parents and what all this madness is about? You’ll have to read the book in order to find out!

I can tell you I loved reading the adventures of the two new characters, Kensy and Max. The great thing is that they are siblings and we get to see some of the issues they need to learn to work through: sometimes they fight, get upset with each other, but they also take care of each other, they help each other and put their heads together to solve the mystery of their missing parents.

I found the first book of this new series a bit more intense and exciting then Jacqueline’s previous two series. But there is one constant: the characters are very resourceful, determined and willing to go to great lengths to do the right thing and accomplish their goal. Also, Jacqueline’s writing is captivating and witty, drawing you in the new adventure we all embarked on when Kensy and Max were introduced to the world.

KENSY AND MAX series is geared to slightly older kids as well, but my younger brother has been waiting for me to finish reading it so he could sneak away with it, too. I think it will be a great success with both boys and girls across middle and upper primary school years.

Penguin Books Australia also put together a fun video trailer for this exciting spy story:

If you like this book, be sure to read the others written by Jacqueline Harvey: Alice- Miranda series and Clementine Rose series.

Clementine Rose and the Paris Puzzle

Clementine Rose and the Paris Puzzle is written by Jacqueline Harvey and illustrated by J. Yi.

It is book  number 12 from the CLEMENTINE ROSE Series.

The book sees Clementine Rose taking her first trip overseas visiting Paris and the adventures she goes through and the challenges she faces.

Lady Clarissa wins a trip to Paris and the family travels along with Drew and his son, Will. Clementine is excited about seeing her friends, Sophie and Jules, about practising her French, about all the things to do and see, and all the landmarks to visit. She is especially looking forward to visiting the Eiffel Tower.

But as always, things don’t go as expected. There is a host of interesting characters, mishaps while sightseeing in Paris, little accidents and funny encounters. They all seem like the pieces of a big puzzle and the biggest one of them is the disappearance of Lavender, Clementine’s tea cup pig.

Can Clementine and her friends find the missing puzzle pieces and complete a happy picture of their adventure in Paris?

You will have to pick up a copy of this freshly released Clementine Rose story and read the exciting adventure.


I enjoyed reading Clementine Rose and the Paris Puzzle because of its humour, its good and bad characters, its tension and the way things worked out in the end. Jacqueline Harvey writes in a very captivating and witty way, drawing us into the middle of the story and not letting go until the last page is turned.

News: Alice-Miranda Books to be Adapted Into a TV Series

On the 20th of June Mediaweek announced that SLR Productions in partnership with ZDF Enterprises have started developing the ALICE-MIRANDA books into 26 animated mini-episodes for 6-9 year-olds. It will be broadcast by the local Nine Network.

I am so very excited about this news and I can’t wait until the first episode is out! I’m sure that all ALICE-MIRANDA readers are looking forward to the TV adaptation of this successful book series.

I can’t help but wonder if CLEMENTINE ROSE book series will have the same fate and be adapted to screen as well. I’m sure all CLEMENTINE ROSE readers would be more then happy if it happened!

Jacqueline Harvey is a very witty, bright and talented writer and I love her stories and characters. I read them with pleasure. Then re-read them some more.

To see Jacqueline Harvey’s blog post announcing this news, please click here.

Press Releases:

Alice-Miranda in New York

Alice-Miranda in New York is written by Jacqueline Harvey and illustrated by J. Yi.

It is book  number 5 from the ALICE-MIRANDA Series.

The book focuses on Alice-Miranda from Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Younger Ladies visiting the  New York City. She is very excited and looking forward to seeing the amazing skyscrapers, the beautiful Central Park and to be attending Mrs Kimmel’s School for Girls. Alice-Miranda is thrilled that her parents are re-opening their elegant store after the latest  renovations.

But things don’t go as planned. The renovations are slow to be completed: stock going missing, deliveries not being made on time, and the vain and selfish Morrie, the store competition, being even more annoying than usual. As always there is drama, but this time it is between the grown-ups. The official re-opening of Alice-Miranda’s family’s department store, Highton’s on Fifth, is scheduled on the same day as the official opening of The Grand Salon hosted by Finkelstein’s, the department store owned by Lucinda’s parents.

However, Alice-Miranda is making  new friends and enjoying  her sight seeing. At  Mrs Kimmel’s School she becomes great friends with the girl called Lucinda, who is very shy and reluctant to have Alice-Miranda come and visit her parents. As we read this book, we become even more curious to discover Lucinda’s secret.

Jacqueline Harvey got her readers used to Alice-Miranda’s resourcefulness: she is easily making friends with her kindness, openness, generosity and bubbly personality. And Alice-Miranda is saving the day and setting things right. Will these be true for Alice-Miranda’s adventure in New York?

If you want to find out more, then pick up a copy of this amazing, glamorous story and read this exciting adventure.

I very much enjoyed Alice-Miranda in New York as it is a captivating and a well written story. Now I’m looking forward to  Alice-Miranda’s adventure in China.