Worst Week Ever! #3: Wednesday – Eva Amores & Matt Cosgrove

When we join Justin on his wacky Wednesday, he’s stranded with his arch-nemesis, Marvin. Marvin adds the arch to nemesis quite well. He’s always perfectly put together even when the situation calls for being covered in mud and he doesn’t fight fair. It’s not beneath him to pull out the dreaded, “I know you are, but what am I?” and he’s a “finders keepers” type of person.

Unfortunately, he’s also Justin’s only company right now, except for the bunch of fins coming closer and closer to their precarious inflatable raft. Wait, did I just say fins? Don’t tell me our intrepid accidental adventurers are on the menu!

I’m quite partial to the biggest audience possible witnessing Justin’s most embarrassing moments so this wasn’t my favourite day of the week so far, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the ride.

There are some Indiana Jones adjacent moments, a chatty parrot and some ghastly, ghostly pirates to contend with. Arr!

While Nan doesn’t have much page time today, her crocheting lessons came in handy in an unexpected way.

Keep an eye out for Justin’s mermaid impression and a sneak peek of Captain Fluffykins. That cat’s pure evil, I tell you.

I absolutely loved the rubber ducky paddle boat, probably in part because it reminded me of the Penguin’s mode of transportation.

I need to commission Mia to draw something for me. Here’s her unicorn-shark hybrid:

description

Today’s deleted scenes feature goats, cows, ducklings and pandas. While I was quite partial to top hat duckling and flower kid, the cow in a onesie won my heart.

description

The original Wednesday plan was postponed to Thursday because of our almost stepbrothers’ impromptu detour. However, if I know this series like I think I do, the 11:56pm door knock seems to indicate that Thursday’s plans will be thwarted. I’m looking forward to finding out how thorny Thursday turns out to be.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Have YOU ever had a BAD WEEK?

Justin Chase sure has, and THIS is it!

Monday really socked, Tuesday blew up, but now it’s … WEDNESDAY!

His cat is still mysteriously missing. He’s an unintentional internet sensation. And right now sharks are circling as he’s stranded in a heart-stopping, skin-crawling, jaw-dropping, seriously shocking S.O.S situation with his unbelievably annoying arch-enemy!

Ninja Kid #10: Ninja Heroes! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Anton Emdin

Grandma’s new invention can bring book characters to life, which sounds amazing, unless you’re thinking of bringing Annie Wilkes to life. Or you intend to use it to make another crossover possible in two series that can really shine when they tell their own stories but whose characters have no business being in the same universe.

In this next instalment of Anh Do’s crossovers with his other series, Ninja Kid crosses over with Pow Pow Pig. Conveniently, Pow Pow Pig is the favourite series of Nelson’s class and they’re putting on a play based on it.

Anyway, so Nelson and Kenny use Grandma’s invention and not only release Pow Pow Pig and the rest of Z team but also a man-insect called Muzzkito. Apparently Z team battle Muzzkito in Nelson’s favourite Pow Pow Pig book, which must have been released in his world before this one because this is the first I’ve heard of him.

And with that, my favourite Anh Do series has been ruined. At this point I don’t know why I’m still reading his books. They started out so well and I loved them so much. Now they just frustrate me, so I think it’s time to bid them farewell.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Nelson and Kenny are rehearsing for the school play. But thanks to Grandma’s new invention, they accidentally bring all the characters to life! Can they zap everyone back in their book before the whole town is overrun by a giant buzzing mosquito army?!

WeirDo #19: Cheesy Weird! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jules Faber

Next week is a big one for Weir and his friends. Hoping to improve on his previous disasters, Weir is busy prepping for his school photo. The afternoon of the school photos, Weir and pretty much everyone in his class are trying out for a TV ad for Tommy’s Famous Ice-Cream.

Weir isn’t the only one primping and practicing. Mullet has offered to give everyone new haircuts for the occasion and, true to his name, he specialises in one style. I’m not entirely sure how he does it but kids whose hair was originally short suddenly have mullets, the back of which is significantly longer than before Mullet worked his magic.

description

Meanwhile, Weir, Bella, Henry and Wendy are trying to find ways to make their auditions stand out.

Most of Anh’s recent books could double as advertisements for his other series, with crossovers that don’t always make sense. I was relieved that the characters who showed up in this book were from this series.

Cheesy Weird! felt more like the earlier books in the series, with plenty of dad jokes, things that don’t always go according to plan and friendship goals. While I’m ambivalent about a number of Anh’s series at the moment, this now isn’t one of them. I’m looking forward to seeing what Weir and his friends get up to next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Say Cheese!

Not only is it school photo day, but there are try-outs for an ice-cream ad!

Can Weir and his friends score the starring roles? Or will their TV dreams melt away?! It won’t be easy … but it will be funny!

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #4: Claudia and Mean Janine – Raina Telgemeier

Text – Ann M. Martin

After successfully avoiding reading about Mimi’s stroke for a year and a half, I’ve now read about it twice in one day; first in the original book and now the graphic novel. I’m more convinced after reading them back to back that this adventure in babysitting should have actually been called Claudia is Mean to Janine. Maybe it’s not as catchy but it is more accurate.

So, the graphic novel. When it was released I’d hoped that Raina would be adapting the entire series. The torch has now been passed to other artists and they’re all really talented as well, but I’ve got a soft spot for the Raina ones. They came first and they’re just wonderful.

I always have fun finding the main differences between the books and their graphic novel adaptations.

The main difference I picked up here isn’t between the book and graphic novel but between Raina’s graphic novels and the ones that followed. Here, Mallory isn’t a BSC member before her time and it’s such a relief. I never knew I was a BSC purist until I saw Malory at BSC meetings before she was supposed to be there.

So, the differences I picked up on between the book and graphic novel.

Book: Begins with Wednesday morning breakfast. It’s summer vacation and Claudia is going to art class, babysit Jamie Newton, shop with Stacey and attend a BSC meeting.
Graphic Novel: Begins with Janine tutoring Claudia in maths because she has an exam. It’s the last week of school. Claudia’s mother’s name is Rioko, which I don’t think I knew before.

Book: Boys don’t feature in the book.
Graphic Novel: We learn that Pete Black held Stacey’s hand on the way home from school. Stacey and Claudia are most excited about this development.

Book: Kristy appears to be over her jealousy of Dawn.
Graphic Novel: Kristy and the green eyed monster are still hanging out. Dawn invites Kristy over to her new-old house and smoothes things over with her. I’m pretty sure it’s the scene from Dawn and the Impossible Three, which hasn’t happened yet in graphic novel world.

Book: We learn that Charlie will drive Kristy the three miles to BSC meetings and back for half the price that Kristy offered him.
Graphic Novel: Charlie isn’t mentioned.

Book: It costs $3 a day per kid to attend the BSC play group.
Graphic Novel: It costs $5 a day per kid to attend the BSC play group.

Book: The play group will be held from 9am to 12:30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Graphic Novel: The play group will be held from 9am to 12pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Book: The BSC members drop off flyers for their play group to all of the usual suspects.
Graphic Novel: The BSC members drop off flyers for their play group to the usual suspects, but also mention the Davises’. Who are they and why hasn’t anyone introduced me to them yet?

Book: Jenny Prezzioso needs to wear a smock to cover her pristine clothes but no one figures that out until the dreaded grass stain on the first day of play group.
Graphic Novel: Dawn comes up with the idea for smocks before play group commences. The grass stain incident happens regardless.

Book: Janine easily wins the trivia game she plays with Claudia and Mimi.
Graphic Novel: The game doesn’t finish because Claudia quits.

Book: While she’s waiting for her parents to get home from the restaurant, Claudia packs a suitcase for Mimi. She runs out to meet her parents before they get into the driveway.
Graphic Novel: Claudia is freaking out too much to think of packing a suitcase. Her parents make it to where Claudia is sitting on the front step of their house before she realises they’ve gotten home.

Book: Dawn’s BSC notebook entry for the first day of the play group mentions how wild Buddy Barrett, Nicky Pike and David Michael Thomas are when they’re together.
Graphic Novel: Dawn’s BSC notebook entry for the first day of the play group mentions how wild David Michael Thomas, Nicky Pike and Marcus are when they’re together. Who’s Marcus? Is he from the Davis family? What happened to Buddy? Is it because the graphic novels were adapted in the wrong order and we haven’t met Buddy yet in this alternate BSC world?

Book: Claudia gets scared when she first visits Mimi. The next day she is able to talk to Mimi and show her the cards the kids at play group made for her.
Graphic Novel: Claudia gets scared when she first visits Mimi. After her parents and Janine visit Mimi, Claudia tries again the same day. She is able to talk to Mimi and show her the cards the kids at play group made for her.

Book: Claudia doesn’t make Mimi a get well present.
Graphic Novel: Claudia works on a get well present for Mimi.

Book: The Thomas-Brewer wedding happened last week. Karen and Andrew are officially a part of Kristy’s family.
Graphic Novel: Karen and Andrew are almost Kristy’s step siblings.

Book: Louie needs to attend play group because the Thomases are moving tomorrow.
Graphic Novel: Louie needs to attend play group because the carpets are getting cleaned.

Book: Mary Anne cares for Mimi one day because Claudia has a babysitting job.
Graphic Novel: Mary Anne cares for Mimi one day because Claudia needs to help prepare for Lucy Newton’s christening.

Book: Claudia and Janine have a talk and understand one another a bit better afterwards.
Graphic Novel: Claudia and Janine have a talk and understand one another a bit better afterwards. We learn Janine also has a secret stash of junk food in her room. That is awesome!

Book: Janine and Mimi go for a walk.
Graphic Novel: Janine and Mimi go for a walk. Claudia decides to join them. Aww!

Book: During the final BSC meeting of the book, the call comes in that will be sending Mary Anne and Stacey to Sea City with the Pikes.
Graphic Novel: During the final BSC meeting of the book, Claudia says she might need to cut back on her babysitting hours to focus more on school. This leads to talk about Mallory joining the club. Ugh! The current BSC members take a photo to memorialise the BSC’s first anniversary. Yay!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Claudia and her sister, Janine, may as well be from two different planets. Claudia, who pays more attention to her art than her grades, feels she can’t compete with her perfect sister. Janine studies nonstop, makes straight A’s, and even takes college-level courses. The girls are nothing alike, and they can’t agree on anything. While Janine devotes all her time to working on her website, The Baby-Sitters Club is busy with their new summer play group. But when something terrible happens to their grandmother, Mimi, the two sisters discover they’re more alike than they originally thought.

The Baby-Sitters Club #7: Claudia and Mean Janine – Ann M. Martin

“Time is change”

When I finished reading Kristy’s Big Day, I knew I needed some time to prepare myself for the beginning of Mimi’s story. That was over a year and a half ago. It turns out that no amount of time can prepare me for the my Mimi heartache.

So, this is me jumping in and protecting my heart as best I can. What? No, you didn’t see me getting misty eyed when I visited Mimi in the hospital.

Moving on. Reading this book for the first time in maybe five or six years generated a bunch of random thoughts.

The Wednesday we begin this book, Claudia has a busy day. She has art class in the morning. After lunch, she babysits for Jamie Newton for a couple of hours, shops with Stacey and then there’s the usual Wednesday BSC meeting. When Stacey rocks up to BSC Central that afternoon at 5:15pm, Claudia is surprised by Stacey’s new haircut and perm. So, what we need to know is this: is Stacey a time traveller? How did she have time to get her hair done between shopping till she dropped and 5:15pm?

We find out how impossibly far away Watson’s mansion is from Kristy’s old house. Three miles. That’s 4.8 km. Huh. My high school was further away from my home than that. It felt like Kristy was being shipped off to another planet when I was growing up.

We learn that Kristy and Mary Anne get Janine’s hand me downs because Claudia’s too cool for them. I kinda think we’re all too cool for them though.

This book got me thinking about how much money Claudia must fork out on junk food and pretzels. She hands out a variety of goodies to her fellow BSC members three times a week, more if there’s an emergency meeting, which there almost always is. Although not in this book which involves an actual emergency! I don’t remember having ever seen a single friend either chip in with some funds to pay for their share or take a turn supplying the snacks. It’s almost enough for me to forgive Claudia for being so mean to Janine. Almost.

Claudia almost hits Janine in this book. Claudia almost hits Janine in this book? How had I forgotten about this?!

Did we know before this book that Buddy’s name is Hamilton Barrett, Junior?

Jenny (“our angel”) Prezzioso declares that Louie Brewer is a “messy-face”. We learn Jenny has a phobia of dogs. The BSC members, professionals that they are, work hard to give Jenny a new fear: of monstrous boys. Okay, they maybe had a little help from Karen but Karen doesn’t charge for her services.

Related to this, Karen Brewer temporarily trades her witch stories for monsters, sort of. Morbidda Destiny cast a spell that’s going to turn someone into a monster, because that witch is all powerful.

Louie gets a makeover (poor Louie) and the Thomases move across town to Watson’s. The Perkins family moves into Kristy’s old house from somewhere that was probably more than three miles away.

Kristy comes up with the idea of running a play group a few mornings a week. Kristy says that Mallory can come and help out as a babysitter-in-training but, nope, we’re not paying her for the privilege. Reader and writer Mallory probably should have noticed the foreshadowing; things aren’t going to get any easier for her when she tries to join the BSC after being invited to do so.

I found Janine annoying when I was a kid but, looking back, I think it was only because the BSC members told me she was. Now, I think she’s somewhat of a kindred spirit. She’s a socially awkward nerd who doesn’t know how to belong in the world outside of her books and computer. And, I’ve got to admit, this broke me a little.

“You’re always pushing me into my world and out of yours.”

In this book, we babysit for Jamie (“hi-hi”) and Lucy Newton, Charlotte Johanssen (can you imagine only needing a babysitter for two hours if you were attending a cocktail party?) and Nina and Eleanor Marshall. We even arrange a time to babysit Myriah and Gabbie Perkins, Stoneybrook’s newest newbies.

With all of the drama surrounding Mimi, we don’t get to tag along to many babysitting gigs but we are invited to the Newton’s a couple of times to babysit and attend Lucy’s christening. Her big brother is forced to get all dressed up for the occasion.

He looked like a real boy.

As opposed to…

The kids who attend the play group are David Michael Thomas, Charlotte Johanssen, Jamie (“hi-hi”) Newton, Nicky, Claire, Margo and Vanessa Pike, Suzi and Buddy Barrett, Jenny (“our angel”) Prezzioso (how much therapy is this kid going to need when she grows up?!), Andrew and Karen Brewer, and Nina and Eleanor Marshall. Mallory begins her unpaid BSC internship and Louie is chased around the yard by pretty much everyone.

Fun fact: Most of my childhood books didn’t come with me into adulthood so adult me repurchased a bunch of them. The edition of this book that I bought has a section at the end called Notebook Pages where the reader can fill in the blanks. The reader before me filled in most of the answers. I absolutely love two of their responses.

I have 0 sisters and 1 brothers.

If I could have any number of brothers and sisters that I wanted, I would want to have 2 sisters and 0 brothers.

Thanks for the smile, Lisa.

Stoneybrook Central Time: it’s July and school’s out for summer. Kristy’s mother married Watson last week. Stacey has lived in Stoneybrook for about a year. Lucy Newton is about seven months old. By the end of the book, July is over.

Up next: Sea City, here we come!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Claudia’s sister is mean! She’s too busy being smart to be nice. Even Claudia’s grandmother, Mimi, can’t get close to Janine. Plus, Mean Janine puts down the Baby-Sitters Club. And that makes Claudia MAD!

This summer the members of the Baby-Sitters Club are starting a play group in the neighbourhood. Claudia can’t wait for it to begin. But then Mimi has a stroke … and the whole summer changes.

Now Claudia has to spend her time “Mimi-sitting” instead of baby-sitting. And things with Janine are going from bad to worse. One of the Kishi sisters has to start being nicer. And it’s sure not going to be Claudia!

Hot Dog! #12: Lolly Time! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dan McGuiness

It’s almost Halloween and Hotdog, Kev and Lizzie are busy working on their costumes. Meanwhile, the new lolly shop is hosting a competition so when they’re not trying to perfect their sewing skills, the friends are cooking up a storm.

While I loved the Halloween costumes the friends ended up wearing, I haven’t found the last couple of books in this series as funny as I did the earlier ones.

It was good to finally meet some of Lizzie’s family and kids should enjoy trying to solve the spooky mystery.

I always look forward to Dan McGuiness’ illustrations and they’re as fun as ever. 

description

Humpty Dumpty Kev, Kev on roller skates and Kev essentially having any expression at all were the standouts for me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The lolly shop’s having a contest to see who can come up with the best new candy! Meanwhile, it’s Halloween and there’s a ghost on the loose!

Can Hot Dog and his friends create a winning treat and capture the spooky stranger?! It would be sweeeeeet!

Ninja Kid #8: Ninja Dogs! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Anton Emdin

Grandma has another new invention, a dog transformation bracelet. Good timing, too, because everyone’s pets are now missing.

‘Do you think Dr Kane’s involved?’

Considering any time anything out of the ordinary happens in Duck Creek it’s because Dr Kane has some new dastardly plan, I would have said it’s a given that he’s now in the pet-napping business. I would have been wrong.

It turns out that the pets aren’t the only ones MIA in this book. While Dr Kane is using his annual leave, the baddie void in Duck Creek is filled by the Collector from the Rise of the Mythix series. Also making a cameo is the front cover of the first book in the Pow Pow Pig series.

When I find subtle nods to author’s other books in the one I’m reading, I generally find it adorable and usually feel super smart for having found them. The crossovers in Anh Do books aren’t nods anymore; they’re beginning to feel more and more like advertisements.

They don’t even make sense most of the time. The Rise of the Mythix series have an older target audience than Ninja Kid so most readers won’t even know who the Collector is.

I accidentally read the ninth Ninja Kid book before this one so had been wondering how Noodles made their way into the family. I’m glad I know now but the constant crossovers are making me question how much longer I’m going to continue reading Anh Do’s books.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Something strange is going on… all the animals in town have DISAPPEARED! But with Grandma’s latest invention, Nelson and Kenny can sniff out trouble by TURNING INTO DOGS! How will they find the pets when they can’t stop PLAYING FETCH?!

Beware, Beware the Drop Bear – Heath McKenzie

Drop bears are the stuff of legends. They’re as Australian as riding a kangaroo to school.

Doing their part to ensure this national treasure never faces extinction, Heath McKenzie takes what Aussies already know about this fearsome creature and runs with it. 

A classic Aussie father, complete with the requisite t-shirt tan line, thongs and propensity to kick back with their feet on an Esky, spins a yarn to a couple of kids. You just know he’s already told this story a hundred times, embellishing it more with every retelling.

The description of the drop bear becomes more outrageous as the story progresses (this drop bear even hands out vouchers for discounts on stuff!). 

Satisfied they’ve done what they can for the day to contribute to their children’s future therapy sessions, the adults have a good laugh. But maybe the joke’s on them…

The illustrations bring the character of the father to life and include some details that I loved, from the Acca Dacca singlet to the Bubble O’ Bill ice cream that’s currently melting all over one of the kids.

As an Australian, I fully endorse this addition to the drop bear legend. It’s fun and it’s silly and I know that I would have wanted to read this over and over as a kid. And maybe as an adult.

Bonus points for being released on April Fool’s Day!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

For many long years, tales have been spread, that fill (mostly tourists) with horror and dread.

Tales about creatures all covered in hair that lurk in the branches – YOU’D BETTER BEWARE!

You’d better look up. You’d better run fast … for maybe the DROP BEARS have found you at last!

Worst Week Ever! #2: Tuesday – Eva Amores & Matt Cosgrove

After starting his Monday at the ungodly time of 5am, Justin Chase gets a bit of a sleep in today. He needed it, though, what with everything he endured yesterday. Not that he was sleeping in a comfy bed or anything. 

His missing cat, presumably abducted by aliens (although between you and I, it wouldn’t surprise me if Captain Fluffykins turns out to be the alien), appeared on the TV screen at midnight. While the TV was unplugged, mind you. Naturally, Justin fainted at this point, which is why he’s woken up on the floor.

Perhaps he should have stayed asleep because the Code Brown incident from yesterday, which should never be spoken of again, has gone viral. 

But the show must go on and today’s school photo day!

Justin is keen to break his unintentional school photo tradition. It’s not too much to ask to have one school photo where your eyes are open, is it?

Today’s also the day of the Super Science Spectacular.

description

‘WHO’S READY TO BE SCIENCED?’ 

Tuesday was just as much fun to read about as Monday, with the events of Monday creating a domino effect that I expect to compound as the week progresses. While bodily functions weren’t focused on quite as much, scenes of kid friendly body horror added to the humour. I’m not ashamed to say that I experienced schadenfreude while watching Justin unwittingly wander from one excruciatingly embarrassing moment to the next.

I need to spend some time in the Wally Valley Public School Library, where you should be on the look out for a sneaky cameo of Macca the Alpaca and Dharma the Llama. There’s even a book vending machine.

The illustrations remain engaging and funny. I was hoping for as many deleted scenes as there were in the first book but only encountered one; it did feature adorable piglets, though, so all is forgiven.

Mia’s drawings are still brilliant. Is it creepy if I tell you her zombie unicorn is to die for?

description

Justin’s Nan, who I flagged as my potential series favourite in the first book, didn’t have much to do in this one. I’m still holding out hope that she’ll claim her prize before the end of the week, although Mia is definitely a contender.

Justin has now survived Miserable Monday and Traumatic Tuesday. It’s a good thing he wore his lucky undies to school today or who knows what might have happened?!

What’s in store for Wacky Wednesday? I can only imagine. The only thing I know for sure is it won’t be boring.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Have YOU ever had a BAD WEEK?

Justin Chase sure has, and THIS is it!

He barely made it through MONDAY, but now it’s … TUESDAY!

His cat is still missing, probably abducted by aliens. His dad is more embarrassing than ever. He’s unexpectedly gone viral online in the worst possible way. And when school photo day collides with the Super Science Spectacular, it’s destined to blow up into a hair-raising, teeth-shattering disaster of epic proportions!

WeirDo #18: Weird History! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jules Faber

Miss Franklin is excited about a writing competition. The best entry in the class will be entered in the regional competition. The school that wins gets a voucher to spend at Buster’s Bookshop. Miss Franklin wants her students to incorporate what they’ve been learning about history in their stories.

By chapter two, what was promising to be a fun and creative story devolved into advertising for the one of the author’s new series, Pow Pow Pig. Even weirder, these series have different publishers.

When Weir, Henry, Bella and Sue decide to hang out after school, they find Weir’s father’s old costume box. This results in them dressing up as a chicken, Barry the goat, a duck and a pig. Uh huh. Then there are the not so subtle sound effects…

description
description

The illustrations were fun. The one where the kids slide down the neck of a brontosaurus to get to the playground reminded me of how Fred Flintstone’s workday finished. 

But I just can’t get excited about a book whose sole purpose is to plug another series.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Weir and his friends have been busy working on stories for an awesome writing competition! Will mixing heroes with history help them win the prize?! Only time will tell! It won’t be easy … but it will be funny!