The Invincibles #2: The Hamster Rescue – Caryl Hart

Illustrations – Sarah Warburton

Nell is looking forward to attending her best friend’s first ever birthday party on Friday and while Freddie Spoon is trying to downplay his excitement he can’t wait, especially as his father (who’s been away for work for months) will be coming home in time to celebrate with him.

Meanwhile, Nell’s older brother Lucas is practising for his band’s first gig (if you can call that noise music!). When Nell is invited to Lucy Perkins’ birthday party on the same day, Nell agrees to go, forgetting all about her best friend. (Hint: we don’t like Lucy Perkins.) Upon realising her mistake Nell has a choice to make. Freddie Spoon is also disappointed because it turns out his father is unable to leave work after all.

And what about the school hamster, Hamish? In a way, he saves the day.

In this book Nell learns a valuable lesson about friendship and loyalty, and that bigger and shinier isn’t always better than simplicity.

Freddie Spoon is still only ever called Freddie Spoon in this second book in the series and again, Nell’s baby sibling, Baby, still has no name. We find out about Freddie Spoon’s family in this book and we learn some more about Nell’s, along with finding out why Freddie Spoon and Nell are The Invincibles.

The illustrations are fun and I really like the colour scheme used in this series, grayscale and one other colour per book. In the first book it was green and in this book it was yellow. It’s surprisingly effective and eye catching.

I accidentally came into this series via the third book but didn’t think to review it at the time. It’s now back on order from the library and I look forward to reading it again, this time in the context of now having read and loved the first two.

I stand by thinking this is a lovely series for younger children. I’d happily reread them all. Now, to wait for the long weekend to be over so I can collect the third book from the library! 😃

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In Nell and Freddie’s second adventure, it’s Hamish the hamster to the rescue! Freddie Spoon is having a birthday party for the FIRST TIME EVER. Nell can’t wait to go, until she realises that she’s also supposed to be going to super-popular Lucy Perkins’ party on the very same afternoon! Disaster! But luckily Nell is looking after Hamish the school hamster, and Hamish is a very smart hamster. He makes a surprise appearance at Lucy’s snooty party and saves the day, then they all have LOADS OF CAKE! Hooray!

The Invincibles #1: The Piglet Pickle – Caryl Hart

Illustrations – Sarah Warburton

The Piglet Pickle is the first in an adorable series for younger readers called The Invincibles, which follows the friendship of Antonella Henry and Freddie Spoon, otherwise known as Nell and Freddie Spoon. For some (probably cute) reason, Freddie Spoon is always called by his full name.

We don’t learn about Freddie Spoon’s family in this book but we learn that Nell lives with her parents, an older brother, Lucas, a younger sibling only called Baby (babies not having names seems to be a newish pattern in children’s fiction), and her granny.

During a school field trip to a farm, Nell takes a liking to the smallest piglet and becomes afraid it will be turned into sausage, thanks to Freddie Spoon. At the end of the field trip Freddie Spoon surprises Nell with something in his backpack that is going to cause “Really BIG Trouble”.

There’s a lot of action to keep young readers entertained and the illustrations are a lot of fun. There’s a sweet quirkiness about them and I particularly loved all of the insects with big googly eyes, all of whom seemed very interested in what these best friends were getting up to.

There’s a realistic dynamic between Nell and Lucas, yelling at each other for invading the privacy of their respective rooms and generally being irritating and embarrassing to each other, but able to come together for the common good when the situation calls for it. I’m interested to see how their relationship changes in future books.

I loved when Nell recounts what her brother said to her, replacing the swear word with beep, because she’s not allowed to tell or she’d be swearing as well.

This is the kind of book I would have loved as a kid and am interested in continuing to follow the story. If I had children I’d definitely be buying the series for them. It’s cute and fun and I’d be happy to go straight back to the beginning and read it again.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A single story in two colour printing this is a lovely beginner-reader series for 5 to 6 year olds which is hilarious and, just about, true to life. In this first story, troublesome twosome Nell and Freddie go on a school trip to a farm, where they pet the animals and learn about how they live, and Freddie smuggles a piglet out in his backpack. He thinks he’s saving it from becoming sausages. So Nell keeps it in her bedroom, gives it a bath and gets it involved in bringing a local crime wave to an end …

The Invincibles #3: The Beast of Bramble Woods – Caryl Hart

Illustrations – Sarah Warburton

In The Beast of Bramble Woods our Invincibles, Freddie Spoon and Nell, are working their Pester Power to try to join Nell’s brother and his two nerdy friends, William and Joe, on an overnight camping adventure.

Nell’s brother Lucas is your typical teenage boy, with some sort of fungus growing out of a coffee cup on his bedroom floor. Lucas spends a fair potion of his time asleep with headphones attached to his head during the day and has a game controller attached to his hands at 3am. In his most likely smelly room he has a doona cover I need because it has sharks all over it!

Nell’s best friend, Freddie Spoon, shows her a newspaper clipping with a photograph of a Mysterious Beast in their neighbourhood. Because they’re going to be wildlife experts when they grow up Freddie Spoon and Nell try to work out what type of animal the Mysterious Beast could be.

Naturally the five kids wind up allowed to join the boys camping – but only until 8:30pm! Once the five start hanging out they tell ghost 👻 stories around the campfire 🔥 which leads to Freddie Spoon showing the older boys the newspaper article about the Mysterious Beast. The night turns into one of dares and scares before we finally uncover the mystery of the Mysterious Beast.

I really enjoy this sweet series. I accidentally read this book first and then followed it up with books 1 and 2, so this is a reread for me now that I know how the story starts. I love the friendship between Nell and Freddie Spoon and also the relationship between Nell and Lucas. As the older brother Lucas is naturally annoyed by his little sister at times but he looks out for her as well. These books have a bit of mystery, a bit of adventure, some humour and a whole pile of feel good loveliness. I smile through these books and feel better about the world when I finish reading each story.

Once again I loved the illustrations by Sarah Warburton. Each book in the series has its own colour and this book is various shades of orange. Keep an eye out for sneak peeks of the beast throughout the book! My favourite illustration is the goofy looking snake in the sewer pipe on its way to bite some unsuspecting toilet user on the bum.

I really hope there’s going to be a book 4!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Nell’s big brother Lucas and his nerdy friends are camping out in the garden. They’ve got a fire and marshmallows and everything! Nell and Freddie Spoon are desperate to join in but they have to go to bed at eight-thirty. Eight-thirty! So they come up with a plan to sneak back out and play some tricks … They steal the marshmallows, and put a frog in a sleeping bag, but their best prank is to pretend to be The Beast of Bramble Woods! But Lucas catches them and they run off into the woods so they don’t get told off. And then they get lost. And then they hear the noises. But it’s just Lucas, isn’t it?