Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle – Cathy Ballou Mealey

Illustrations – Kelly Collier

Sloth and Squirrel are in a bit of a pickle. 677.5 jars of pickles, to be exact.

They decide to work as pickle packers to earn the money to buy the bike they want but things don’t quite go to plan. Teamwork can be a bit tricky when one member of your team is super speedy and the other is s-l-o-w.

This is a cute picture book with two very different friends. This story shows our new friends working together towards a common goal, using initiative and thinking outside the box to solve a problem.

The illustrations highlight how fast Squirrel is, how slow Sloth is and how expressive both friends are.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A speedy squirrel and a sleepy sloth try to get the job done in this funny, heartwarming tale of two loveable, but unlikely, friends.Though Sloth and Squirrel are good friends, they have different ways of doing things – and different speeds of doing them. So, when Squirrel gets them jobs as pickle packers to earn money for a new bike, things don’t go according to plan. It seems that the contrasting skill sets of a fast-as-lightening squirrel and a slow-as-molasses sloth can make for a mess of an outcome, and before long, the friends are shown the pickle factory’s door, along with the 677 1/2 jars of pickles they packed incorrectly! Now the pair are bicycle-less, with only pickles to show for themselves. Or so they think – until the resourceful pair come up with an ingenious plan!

This delightful story from Cathy Ballou Mealey is a celebration of friendships of all kinds and a testament to ingenuity and hard work. Packed with funny details that aren’t in the text, Kelly Collier’s engaging illustrations are full of personality and silly, emotionally expressive humour. Together they create a hilarious picture book that’s perfect for a fun and lively read-aloud. At the same time, the positive themes in the book highlight a growth mindset and character education lessons on teamwork, perseverance and initiative.

Sherlock Bones #2: Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature – Renée Treml

In Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery, we met Bones, a skeletal tawny frogmouth, and Watts, a stuffed blue Indian ringneck parrot. This unconventional team are both exhibits in the state Natural History Museum. In the first book we also met Grace, a chocolate loving raccoon.

There’s talk of a swamp monster who may have “squid-napped” the octopus. Our new mystery takes place in a brand new exhibit, Reef to Shore. There’s definitely something fishy going on in there.

I know, I know … But I couldn’t help myself. In my defence, the author started it!

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Naturally Bones, Watts and Grace take it upon themselves to investigate. Along the way they meet a new friend, Nivlac the octopus. Our intrepid trio navigate their way around touch pools and the mangroves searching for clues. It will take teamwork, keen observation skills and some cardio.

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Nevertheless, our team is keen to solve any mystery that comes their way, even the mystery of how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Granted, Grace is slightly more interested in her search for chocolate than she is in solving the bigger mysteries but you can’t blame her for that.

If you keep an eye out for visual clues you’ll probably be able to solve the mystery for yourself. Observant readers will learn the identity of the thief from the first book early in this sequel so you may want to read them in order to avoid spoilers.

Like the first book, you’ll accidentally learn as you make your way through this one, with some interesting facts about cryptozoology and some of the animals you meet along the way.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Etch, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Sherlock Bones’ home, the Natural History Museum, has added an exciting new exhibit, Reef to Shore, that includes a mangrove forest and shallow coral reef habitat, with touch tanks in between. When Sherlock overhears a that a swamp monster has been sighted, he gathers his team to investigate. At first Sherlock Bones suspects Nivlac, a quirky octopus with a talent for camouflage – and tank pranks.

But then, loud bellowing leads Bones and team to the mangroves, where they find a horrifying long-haired green beast! Can they escape the creature – or is it too late for our beloved frogmouth bird skeleton and his ragtag mystery-solving team?

Ninja Kid #7: Ninja Toys! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Anton Emdin

It’s time for the Duck Creek Science Fair. Kenny has been working so hard at not eating his invention that he ate Nelson’s instead. It’s lucky that Grandma is the world’s best inventor and it’s not like she specifically said not to take her brand new invention to school without her permission.

The Glove of Life has the ability to give life to toys, although like all of Grandma’s inventions there are still a few kinks that need to be figured out. Naturally the evil Dr Kane finds a way to use this invention for evil.

It’s up to Ninja Kid and H-Dude to save the day. It’s a good thing too because it was their actions that allowed Dr Kane to get his hands on this invention-turned-weapon in the first place.

I had a couple of favourite things in this book: Kenny’s stuffed sloth, Speedy, was my favourite newly alive toy and Billy Bob’s ice cream maker was my favourite invention.

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There were some cameos from other Anh Do series in this book. Usually I like this sort of thing when it’s subtle, e.g., a character pictured reading another book the author has written. There was nothing subtle about the cameos in this book, though. They felt more like advertisements to me and I wasn’t a fan.

Besides my personal distaste, they also raised questions for me of whether the kids reading this book would even understand the references. The series whose characters found their way onto these pages seem to be targeted at an older audience than the Ninja Kid series so, while it could be used as an introduction to those characters, I expect many Ninja Kid readers wouldn’t have read any of the Wolf Girl, Rise of the Mythix or E-Boy series yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Grandma has invented the COOLEST thing ever – a GLOVE that can bring toys to life! But when the glove is stolen, Nelson and Kenny have to find a way to get it back … before a CRAZY TOY ARMY takes over the WHOLE TOWN!

Friday Barnes #9: No Escape – R.A. Spratt

‘I’m giving that up,’ said Friday.

‘What?’ asked Melanie.

‘Private detection, solving mysteries, that stuff,’ said Friday. ‘I’m not going to do that anymore.’

It’s been two years since we last saw Friday and the years haven’t been kind to her. When we meet up with her again she’s just been released from “the country’s highest security juvenile detention facility”, having spent eleven months imprisoned there.

In that time Binky has graduated (I miss him already!) but Melanie is still at Highcrest Academy and she has held onto Friday’s green pork-pie hat. Melanie might be a great napper but she also knows her best friend can’t stay away from solving mysteries for long.

Thanks to Parker, who was at Highcrest Academy all along but still seems like a replacement Binky to me, Friday is soon investigating the case of the missing passport and missing underwear. She also has an appointment with the school counsellor.

‘Are you going to psychoanalyse me based on my literary preferences?’

Uncle Bernie, Ian, Ian’s mother and Friday’s new cousin are still in Italy. Uncle Bernie needs Friday’s help so it’s lucky that there’s a school excursion to Italy that Friday can join. Melanie’s coming too and as usual she constantly reminded me why I love her.

‘I know you feel scared right now because you’re out of practice at being brave. But I’m your best friend, so I know for a fact that you can do this because you’re the bravest person I’ve ever met.’

For someone who spends most of the book sleeping, she manages to snag some really good lines.

Once they’re all in Italy, Friday has plenty of mysteries to investigate, including the case of the gelato rivals, the mysteriously malfunctioning water heater and the potential theft of priceless artefacts from museums. There are nuns and tourist attractions and the opportunity to say things like:

‘It’s an urgent matter of national historic importance.’

It was really good to get to hang out with Ian again. He and Friday make a great team, even though they sometimes baffle one another.

‘I think you’re going to surprise me, by doing something unimaginable. You always do.’

Friday has grown up a bit in the past two years but her time in Juvie has had a huge impact on her. She’s more fragile and vulnerable, and it’s sad to see her readjusting to real life again. At the same time, though, what she’s been through has made her more relatable to me. While I always loved her, in some of the earlier books it was easy to believe that almost nothing fazed her because she was so out of touch with her feelings.

‘I don’t understand why people do the things they do. I just know what I’ve read in books.’

I’m so glad this series is continuing. I wish Friday had been there to model smart, socially awkward and loveable to me when I was a kid.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

It’s two years later …

Friday steps out of prison, a shell of her former self. She’s still wearing the same brown cardigan, but she swears she’s never solving mysteries again! Who is Friday kidding? She can’t suppress her brilliant deductive mind and is soon drawn back into the intrigues of Highcrest Academy.

Then Uncle Bernie rings, pleading with Friday to fly to Italy and help him protect the Uffizi Gallery from a team of art thieves – and she can’t say ‘no’ to family. Even if it means travelling to the city where Ian, her nemesis/ex-boyfriend is living.

Will Friday be able to protect Italy’s finest artworks? Will Melanie stay awake long enough to help her? And will Ian still be as gorgeous as a Greek god and twice as annoying?

The Girls I’ve Been – Tess Sharpe

Spoilers Ahead! (in content warnings)

Sometimes what doesn’t kill you messes you up so bad it’s always a fight to make through what you’re left with.

What didn’t kill me didn’t make me stronger; what didn’t kill me made me a victim.

But I made me stronger. I made me a survivor.

Well, me and Lee and my very patient therapist.

I am so obsessed with this book! Going into it I knew a few things: it has a great cover, it’s about a girl who winds up in the middle of a bank robbery with her ex-boyfriend and current girlfriend, and there’s more to the girl than meet the eye.

I didn’t expect it to be such a compulsive read. From beginning to end there’s practically non-stop action and reveals. I also didn’t expect my review to basically consist of a string of quotes but there were so many things I wanted to highlight and even if I did decide to desecrate my library book, I’d have to return it at some point, and I want to be able to revisit them.

So, our main character is Nora but that’s just the name she answers to now. Her mother is a con artist who groomed her daughter to play a role in each of her cons, so there have been many girls before Nora.

She was Rebecca.

Being Rebecca teaches me how to lie. How to look into someone’s eyes while there isn’t a true word coming out of your mouth, but they believe it because enough of you believes it.

She was Samantha.

Samantha has no needs or wants. She exists to serve someone else’s.

She was Haley.

Haley is unobtrusive. No one really pays her any mind in the crowd.

She was Katie.

Katie is not quiet. She is not silent. She is not invisible. She is the first spitfire Mom lets me be, the closest thing to me I’ve been in years.

She was Ashley.

And that’s when it hits me: There aren’t any more rules.

I didn’t just break them. I broke free of them.

Nora is not the only character you’ll be thinking about long after you finish reading, though.

There’s also Lee, Nora’s badass older sister, a tough, smart, determined woman who is willing to play the long game to get what she wants. Lee is someone you definitely want on your side but, like Nora, life has left her with scars.

Broken girls, both of us, growing up into women with cracks plastered rough over where smooth should be.

Wes, Nora’s ex-boyfriend, is basically my idea of the perfect boy. He’s a wonderful friend, he’s protective of the people he loves, he’s this sort of intoxicating combination of strong, sensitive and damaged, and he forgets that he’s a terrible singer when he’s stoned.

This we share. Scars and knowledge and broken safety that was never really there in the first place, because we were born to bad apples.

Iris, Nora’s girlfriend, is absolutely everything! She’s smart, she’s intuitive and she wears clothes that I can only dream of looking that amazing in. She’s brave and she’s resilient and she can think straight and stay upright even when she’s experiencing intense chronic pain from endometriosis. She’s basically my idea of a superhero.

She is heedless and gleeful and has the self-preservation instincts of a moth drawn to dares and flames.

Lee, Wes and Iris are not cardboard cutout characters cast in a supporting role. They’re each deserving of their own books. They certainly have enough personality and backstories to fill them.

Although their story is set during a bank robbery, these four already share stories of survival, even though they don’t necessarily know all of each other’s secrets.

I felt Nora’s pain deep in my soul: wanting to be the person people tell you you’re supposed to be, holding onto your secrets and your shame because you don’t know if anyone will ever be able to love the real you, needing to protect the people you care about from you because you don’t want the parts of you that you hide to hurt them, trying to survive your past without it consuming your future.

There were lines that made me smile.

“Very original. Do you have some evil-dude bingo card stashed somewhere?”

But more often, what I wanted to highlight were truths that spoke to me, things I know in my heart but that I’m going to need to revisit so I can be reminded of them.

“Men like that don’t stop”

You don’t have to just be taught to trust, you have to grow up in a life with people who are worthy of it.

“There is no normal,” Amelia says. “There’s just a bunch of people pretending there is. There’s just different levels of pain. Different stages of safe. The biggest con of all is that there’s a normal.”

Content warnings include mention of abortion, domestic violence, emotional abuse, gun violence, physical abuse and sexual assault. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with a couple of scenes. The author has provided a more extensive list of content warnings here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As an ex con artist, Nora has always got herself out of tricky situations. But the ultimate test lies in wait when she’s taken hostage in a bank heist. And this time, Nora doesn’t have an escape plan …

Meet Nora. Also known as Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie and Ashley – the girls she’s been. 

Nora didn’t choose a life of deception – she was born into it. As the daughter of a con artist who targeted criminal men, Nora always had to play a part. But when her mother fell for one of the men instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con herself: escape. 

For five years Nora’s been playing at normal – but things are far from it when she finds herself held at gunpoint in the middle of a bank heist, along with Wes (her ex-boyfriend) and Iris (her secret new girlfriend and mutual friend of Wes … awkward). Now it will take all of Nora’s con artistry skills to get them out alive. 

Because the gunmen have no idea who she really is – that girl has been in hiding for far too long … 

Friday Barnes #8: Never Fear – R.A. Spratt

Things are changing at Highcrest Academy. There’s a new Headmaster, which made no sense to me when I learned about them towards the end of the last book. Sure, the previous Headmaster is currently recovering from a medical emergency but I didn’t think there was any way they would voluntarily retire.

It’s not that they love their job or having to deal with Friday, who’s fairly consistently sitting on the bench outside their office. It’s because their gambling addiction hasn’t left them with enough money to be able to retire. This apparent inconsistency is explained in this book.

That wasn’t the only thing that was odd about the last book, or this one for that matter. I don’t remember Friday getting hit on the head once in either book. That’s so un-Friday-like.

It’s not long into the new Headmaster’s reign before Friday is transferred from Year 8 to Year 12. This means she will be finishing high school in a matter of months, not years. Highcrest Academy is her home and Melanie, her best friend, is the closest thing she has to family (other than Uncle Bernie). She can’t imagine her life without either and is certain the new Headmaster is just trying to get rid of her. After all, it doesn’t seem as though Dr Belcredi is a fan of Friday.

‘It’s amazing how often you’re the one who find the problems that no-one else notices are there.’

‘I’m just observant,’ said Friday.

‘You’re a trouble-magnet,’ said Dr Belcredi.

Melanie has a boyfriend now, although in the last book he was her stalker. I’m not loving that stalking is portrayed as romantic.

There’s the mystery of the missing toilet paper, unexpected cake and the entire student body are sleeping in tents. The big mystery, even though it felt forgotten for part of the book, was the possibility of gold hidden somewhere at Highcrest Academy.

There chiselled into the sandstone, just visible under years of lichen and dirt were the words:

LATET INTUS IN AURUM

‘That’s Latin. It means “the gold lies within”,’ said Friday. ‘I always assumed it was a metaphor for a student’s potential, but maybe it literally means gold.’

A couple of minor inconsistencies didn’t make sense to me.

Shortly before Friday pulled the fire alarm we were told it was an hour before dinner and as such classes had finished for the day. Two pages later we learn that no one was scared when they evacuated because it meant they were getting “an afternoon off class”.

Friday reminds us she isn’t good at noticing changes to people’s physical appearance when Mirabella wails about the conspiracy to make her fat, yet in the last book Friday specifically mentioned another character losing 15 kilos.

I was glad that Malcolm had a role to play in this book and the new Headmaster, who I hated at first sight because I didn’t want the old Headmaster to be gone, grew on me towards the end. I loved that Binky had so much page time; he’s always adorable.

If my series binge had gone ahead as planned several years ago I would have been extremely disappointed with how this book ended. It seemed like it was the final book in the series when it was published and so much was left up in the air. Thankfully I have the ninth book on hand and I’ve already had a sneak peek at the end so I know there’s going to be a tenth.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Friday’s time at Highcrest is running out!

The new headmaster is turning everything upside down. Friday’s irritatingly high IQ has her fast-tracked to graduation, while a pair of incriminating pants puts Ian on the rocky road to expulsion.

When a rumour emerges of embezzled gold stashed on the school grounds, Friday is determined to uncover the truth. But some big questions remain: Can she stay out of detention long enough to solve the mystery? How will Melanie survive without Friday to tell her what class she’s in? And will Friday ever get that first kiss with Ian?

With implosions and explosions everywhere, Friday Barnes will have to use her head and get a grip on her beating heart in order to find the gold that lies within.

Friday Barnes #7: Bitter Enemies – R.A. Spratt

When we last saw Friday, she’d just survived four weeks at school camp. Waiting for her at Highcrest Academy were two of her siblings, Quasar and Orion. We’d previously heard about her four older siblings (the other two are called Quantum and Halley) but this is the first time we’ve met any of them.

The school year has just begun and Melanie and Ian are not looking forward to beginning Year 8 without Friday, who’s been studying in Switzerland at the best school in the world.

This year is the sesquicentennial (that’s the 150th anniversary, for all of you who aren’t Friday Barnes) of the school’s founder’s birth. In addition to the new meditation room that’s being constructed and the refurbishment of the exercise pool for the polo ponies, the previous Headmasters have been invited back to Highcrest Academy. They will be guest teaching for four weeks. As such, everyone is to be on their best behaviour.

‘There will be no mysteries!’ yelled the Headmaster. ‘I forbid it!’

While I always enjoy stories where kids go to camp, I missed the interaction with Highcrest Academy’s teachers in the previous book. I appreciated Mrs Cannon, the English teacher, quickly reminding me why I love her.

‘I never teach you anything because I’m lazy, and because I think it’s far better for you to figure it all out on your own. What’s the point in me telling you when you could learn for yourself?’

Not surprisingly, Friday quickly makes an impression with the four previous Headmasters, although it’s not a great one. There’s also mysteries to solve, including who is breaking into the school.

‘What on earth is she doing?’ asked Colonel Hallett.

‘Investigating,’ said the Headmaster. ‘Just wait, she’ll sniff something next.’

I was surprised that Ian didn’t know that Friday was returning to school, especially considering the fact that his mother is now married to Friday’s Uncle Bernie and he’s just spent the school holidays with them. Uncle Bernie would definitely have been kept in the loop. I’m finding it sadder and sadder that the rest of Friday’s family are so neglectful.

Friday found planets comforting, because unlike most of the people in her life, planets could be relied on to turn up at precise locations at predictable intervals.

At one point Melanie asks Ian if the Headmaster is asking a rhetorical question. Usually she’s the one identifying these for Friday so it’s inconsistent for her to be asking, unless she’s missing Friday so much at this point that she’s lost her ability to pick up on social nuances. Thankfully later in the book Melanie’s rhetorical question detection is back to normal.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When four former headmasters arrive at Highcrest Academy to take part in the school’s anniversary celebrations, the students are warned to be on their best behaviour.

Unfortunately, no one told the headmasters to stay out of mischief too! Which means Friday Barnes soon has a case to solve. But unravelling the truth isn’t easy when the whole school is being forced to eat paleo because the cook is on a diet; her best friend’s brother won’t stop blubbering about the terrible boat accident he may or may not have caused; and Friday is being trailed by a mysterious admirer – or is it a stalker?

Can Friday find the facts among the mayhem? She’d better. The fate of Highcrest depends on it!

Friday Barnes #6: Danger Ahead – R.A. Spratt

‘The greatest lesson I learn from school is how to interact with other people.’

‘Really?’ said Melanie. ‘Because if that’s the case, you’re not doing too well at your studies.’

It’s almost time for Highcrest Academy’s Year 7 students to attend Camp Courage. This will require Friday to actually interact with people other than Melanie, her best friend. But first Friday will need to save Ian, who’s been kidnapped.

Once she’s at Camp Courage, Friday meets Geraldine, the ray of sunshine who runs the camp.

‘I like running a haunted camp. Fear of the undead is the only thing that keeps you brats in bed at night. I just wish the ghost would push more of you into the river!’

Friday and her fellow Houseboat campers spend the next four weeks peeling potatoes, collecting water and other activities that Friday is pretty sure don’t constitute wilderness survival skills. She does manage to work on her sarcasm though.

If only her Headmaster hadn’t specifically asked her to not solve any crimes while she’s at camp.

‘But we all know it’s only a matter of time before you uncover something, or expose something, or entrap somebody, or just say something unnecessarily rude.’

Of course, that was never going to happen, especially when there’s the case of the missing breakfast cereal and the case of the ghost of Ghost Mountain that need to be solved.

At least her recent burpee practice may prove helpful as she attempts further physical activity. And it wouldn’t be a Friday Barnes book if Friday didn’t get hit on the head (again!).

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

School camp … what could possibly go wrong?

Friday Barnes is forced to face her biggest fear – her own emotions! She must wave goodbye to Ian as he takes off to join his father in the Cayman Islands. But when your dad is a white-collar criminal, family reunions never go to plan. Ian is kidnapped en route and it’s up to Friday to rescue him.

On her return to school, the Headmaster has a treat in store – a four-week camp for students to learn wilderness survival skills! ‘Camp Courage’ is even worse than Friday imagined. And all her book smarts aren’t much help when she’s got wood to chop, potatoes to peel and latrines to dig.

Can Friday survive the great outdoors, debunk the legend of a camp ghost and make it back to Highcrest Academy alive? Only time (and a compass) will tell!

Friday Barnes #5: The Plot Thickens – R.A. Spratt

‘Urgh, I knew this was going too well. Heaven forbid we have a school occasion where Miss Barnes doesn’t interrupt and turn everything on its head.’

Friday and Ian’s already tenuous friendship takes a hit when Friday is infuriatingly right about Ian’s father. Ian responds by taking it out on her, devising elaborate pranks at her expense.

Just when Friday is considering leaving Highcrest Academy, three newcomers arrive. A famous artist is going to be teaching the students for eight weeks, culminating in the reveal of a mural and an art show.

There’s also a new and very enthusiastic PE teacher. Friday and Melanie are not pleased at all with this development as it may require them to actually participate. Friday is not coordinated at all and Melanie flat out refuses to do anything that resembles exercise. Friday does discover what a burpee is but that doesn’t mean she has to like it.

Finally, Highcrest Academy welcomes a new Year 8 student, Epstein Smythe.

Friday gets involved in more than her fair share of mysteries, including searching for the missing ‘Red Princess’, thwarting an attempted kidnapping of a “remarkably unremarkable student” and revealing the identity of the person who’s been adding contemporary elements to well known paintings.

‘If you’re up to something illicit but that is somehow for the greater good, could you please do a better job of hiding it from me?!’

She also has more than her fair share of head injuries. It seems like Friday is always getting a new bump on the noggin, whether she’s been knocked unconscious or she’s fainted at the sight of her own blood. Friday is much more emotional in this book than she usually is, although this is probably just a side effect of being hit on the head so many times.

There’s one thing that’s really irking me – some of the language used to describe people. I’ve previously been miffed by the way mental health has been made fun of. In this book I’m objecting to the term “bonkers” being used to describe someone with Alzheimer’s. This is so unnecessary, it’s not funny and the book would be better without it. I mentioned in a previous review that I read a first edition and it’s possible the words I didn’t like may not have made it into subsequent editions; I hope that is the case this time too.

I really enjoyed the inclusion of the new teachers and student and, despite my objection above, this book is my second favourite of the series so far (the first one holds a special place in my heart).

The further I get into the series the angrier I become at Friday’s neglectful parents and the more I appreciate how well the teachers get away with working so very little. I adore Friday and Melanie but it’s Binky, Melanie’s brother, who has overtaken everyone else to become my favourite character. He’s absolutely delightful and I desperately want him to have a happy ending with his princess.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Friday Barnes is being attacked on all fronts!

When Friday Barnes gets involved in her frenemy Ian Wainscott’s family dispute, it appears her knack for uncovering the truth may ruin their friendship once and for all.

Highcrest Academy is no longer a fun place to be. Ian has declared war on Friday and she is thinking of leaving … for good. Meanwhile, there’s two new teachers to contend with – a celebrity artist whose intentions are somewhat unclear, and an over-enthusiastic PE teacher on a fitness crusade. Between them and Ian, it’s going to be one dangerous term. Can Friday repair her friendship with Ian, restore her perfect school-life balance and work out who is committing the blatant acts of vandalism around Highcrest? No one said high school would be easy!

Friday Barnes #4: No Rules – R.A. Spratt

‘It’s hard enough running this school. Who’s going to figure out all the weird hijinks that go on if Friday isn’t here?’

When Friday returns to Highcrest Academy after sorting out her deportation problem, she finds the school in chaos. All of the teachers have been fired and the students are running amok.

Now there’s a new vice principal, VP Pete, who is fond of tie-dyed clothing and has oddly coloured feet. The school has been threatened with closure and everyone is supposed to be on their best behaviour, only someone didn’t get the memo. As usual, Friday is right in the thick of it.

‘Whenever there’s trouble, you’re right there.’

‘That’s only because you always ask me to fix it for you,’ said Friday.

Of course Melanie, Friday’s best friend, is there to help out when she’s not busy napping. There’s the case of the missing textbooks and the case of the missing furniture to solve. Then there’s the noticeable absence of Friday’s nemesis, Ian, who has been expelled.

‘I’ve solved bank robberies, thwarted smuggling operations and uncovered escaped convicts,’ said Friday. ‘Your problem is well within my skill set.’

Friday’s biggest problem, though? The cross country is coming up and it looks as though she is going to be forced to participate. Despite having a great number of strengths, coordination and athletic ability are not among them. This could be disastrous!

If you’re planning on reading this series, be sure to read them in order. Spoilers for previous books tend to be scattered throughout them.

Also make sure you don’t relax when Friday is told she’s allowed to enjoy some dessert for saving the day once again. That just means the cliffhanger is about to happen.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Friday Barnes has been deported to Switzerland! With their in-school detective gone, Highcrest Academy has descended into chaos. Someone’s fired all the teachers!

The Headmaster claims it wasn’t him, and suspicion soon turns to Ian Wainscott, but Friday won’t stand by and let her favourite nemesis take the blame. Apart from being innocent (probably), he’s seriously good-looking. There’s also the problem of the new vice principal and his questionable teaching methods. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they wear tie-dyed t-shirts.

Can Friday save Ian’s scholarship? Can she find the prankster before they bring down the school? Can she run the cross country? She’s certainly going to try … to do the first two, anyway.