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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Family Friday: Review of Agatha Parrot and the Floating Head by Kjartan Poskitt

For Family Friday this week, a children's book review

Title: Agatha Parrot and the Floating Head
Author: Kjartan Poskitt
Publisher: Egmont
Published: 1 August 2011
Genre: Children's (5-8 yr olds)

Find it at Amazon UK

The Blurb says:
Hiya! This book is about Odd Street School where I go with mad Ivy who always jumps down stairs four at a time WAHOO! And Martha who is big and can sort out boys anytime. 

The oddest teacher we've got is Miss Barking who wears goggles and gloves to use a pencil sharpener. This story is about when she tried to execute Martha with a floppy cardboard axe, but instead Martha's head floated off and exploded ha ha brilliant!

My verdict: hilarious fun for young readers. Strongly recommended for children of 7-9 (or younger as a shared book).
Agatha Parrot is a brilliant character with a bright and witty voice. She narrates her own story (which is why the book is described as 'typed out neatly by Kjartan Poskitt' - Agatha is the author and Poskitt has just recorded her story for her). As a first-person story, Agatha introduces us to her friends before the story properly begins, and she is able to lead the reader through in quite an explicit way, which is good for newly independent readers as well as fitting with her quirky style.

The plot concerns Agatha's class, who are going to be taken on a special trip as a reward for all having full attendance for the half term. Agatha's friend Martha has an incident with a crazy pizza (octopus paste...)  and gets sick. Naturally, Agatha has to pretend that Martha is not sick and is at school, with the help of a balloon, Martha's coat and some newspaper-stuffed trousers. Hilarity ensues as she battles to save the class trip.

This series is bound to be compared with Mr Gum, as they share an illustrator, but I would say that this book is somewhat gentler in its humour than Mr Gum. At the same time, although the main characters are girls, this is not a girly-girl book - Agatha is too feisty for sparkly pink princessy fluffiness, I should think! The plot is crazy and hilarious, but it isn't as far-fetched as Mr Gum, possibly due to its school setting. I felt it was more like Kes Gray's recent Daisy chapter books in tone and style.

Overall, I found this a really entertaining read, which had me laughing out loud in a couple of places. The plot is appropriately simple and linear and although I knew what was likely to happen, the delivery itself was so funny and well-delivered. My seven year old is going to love this! 

This is my twelfth review for the British Books Challenge.

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