The Frankenstein Adventures by Bil Richardson

Published: 3rd October 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Creator Studios
Pages: 136
Format: ebook
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

This is the story of Frankenstein told from the vantage point of Igor, the bumbling, brave boy who will risk everything to save his master’s flawed creation. Hilarious and heart-warming – this is a book that will make you stand up and cheer one minute and fall down laughing the next. Igor’s heart is in the right place even though parts of his body aren’t. He is a loveable, lopsided fellow who has more courage and strength than any of the adults who look down on him. When things go wrong with his boss’s “experiment,” Igor sees it as his duty to save the day – even though most days he is the one who needs saving. Our hilarious hero has to overcome enormous odds on his mission to rescue the most important achievement in human history – the creation of life. Follow Igor on his amazing adventure to prove that he is more than just a not-so-pretty face.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book by the author for review.

The blurb is slightly misleading, and while there is truth that Igor does set out the save his master’s creation, the story is not entirely his as the third person perspective offers insight into many different characters, new and old. While it is a retelling of the traditional Frankenstein story, Richardson takes it further and it becomes a story about family, friendship, and discovering the monsters of the world are not the most obvious.

The writing is straightforward but weave a detailed and in-depth story. The tone is one kids will love; Igor and the other characters are funny, there’s snark and drama and puns, and seeing the domestic side of Frankenstein brings in all the scary, gross, fun kids will love. Where Richardson shines is that while it is light-hearted and silly, there is also heart and warmth.

The first part of the narrative retells the original story with a few extra twists and characters to get to know. We follow Frankenstein’s monster as he flees the castle, we see locals as they hunt after him, and we follow the angst of Igor and his master as they work out what to do. From there we see the story continues through the eyes of various characters as the story moves into one of friendship, jealously, and drama.

The tone is suitable for the intended age group but there is no hiding from the scientific methods or descriptions either. We know Frank is burned, with scars and the traditional story is but a lot of the elements are there about violence too. The characters are sweet and endearing once the story gets going and you see the emotion and their misguided goodness. The violent side is restrained but regular but you see the good versus evil in each altercation and know who the bad guys are.

Richardson demonstrates that Frank (as he’s named himself) is not the real monster, nor is Frankenstein either. There are messages in there about kindness and being a friend and how monsters are made by people and what blind judgement can do. There is also a fantastic message about what makes a family. A great story for kids to enjoy where they can experience the Frankenstein story without delving right into Shelley’s horror masterpiece.

You can purchase The Frankenstein Adventures via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Long Lost Reviews: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 1st July 1996Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 HarperTrophy
Pages: 298
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Harriet M. Welsch is determined to grow up and be a famous author. In the meantime, she practices by following a regular spy route each day and writing down everything she sees in her secret notebook.

Then one morning, Harriet’s life is turned upside down. Her classmates find her spy notebook and read it out loud! Harriet’s in big trouble. The other sixth-graders are stealing her tomato sandwiches, forming a spy-catcher club, and writing notes of their own — all about Harriet!

I reread this book so many times as a kid. I had the movie tie-in cover which is now much loved as evidence by the very crinkled cover. I don’t remember a lot of the little details, but I have always had an affection for this book. This was probably reinforced by the movie, but to be honest, it was a great movie.

Harriet wants to be a writer, therefore she must practice. She writes down everything in her notebook, everything she sees and everything people say and do around her. I’d never thought about whether it was Harriet who subconsciously got me interested in becoming an author, I award that honour to John Marsden, but maybe she put a small seed in my head as well which started the idea growing.

Since I was a kid when I saw the movie and read the book, the movie has imprinted itself on me much more. The movie got me interested in The Walrus and the Carpenter poem, despite the fact I probably would have seen Alice in Wonderland first. I remember loving this book, and I definitely think I have blurred the movie and the book together in my imagination, but it was a great book to show what happens when you write about other people and put your opinions on paper in full detail.

I remember the book being a lot more serious than the blurb makes it sound like. As a kid I guess these things are more dire and I just remember the feeling I experienced when the others find Harriet’s notebook. The second hand mortification I felt stays with me now. It was the most intense and climactic thing I had read since being stressed about Bastian in The Never Ending Story.

Doing these Long Lost Reviews has made me reminisce about some wonderful books I know I’ve loved but have long forgotten. They also spark a strong desire to reread them, even when I can barely read the books I haven’t read yet. I may have to find some room though to revisit this little gem.

The 65-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Published: 12 August 2015 (print)/12 August 2015 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Pan Macmillan Australia /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 384/2 Hours 13 mins
Narrator: Stig Wemyss
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Andy and Terry’s amazing 65-Storey Treehouse now has a pet-grooming salon, a birthday room where it’s always your birthday (even when it’s not), a room full of exploding eyeballs, a lollipop shop, a quicksand pit, an ant farm, a time machine and Tree-NN: a 24-hour-a-day TV news centre keeping you up to date with all the latest treehouse news, current events and gossip. Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!

With a touch of Jack and the Beanstalk, time travel and the film Them! it’s a curious adventure Andy and Terry go on. Jill comes in with her logic and reason to bring the boys into line and solve their problems all of which combine to be a pretty normal day in the treehouse.

In this new adventure you learn new words, get to travel through history in a wheelie bin, albeit a smidge inaccurately, but it is fun. TreeNN is a fun addition as well, ending chapters with something different. I liked the break in formula in this one, no book talk, instead we need a building inspection from Inspector Bubblewrap. This prompts the time travel and all sorts of mishaps as they try to travel back 6.5 years and end up at all different points through history.

Admittedly, I couldn’t get into this story as easily as the others. I liked the diversion from the normal structure because that can be boring after a while. It was fun but not as engaging as the previous stories. I also got a visual copy in the end because while Wemyss has done a brilliant job in the past to compensate, I needed Denton’s illustrations this time to appreciate some of the jokes and references.

The Treehouse series continues to grow and change with each book and the creativity and inventiveness of Griffiths and Denton is amazing. The jokes are clever and the illustrations are so detailed that there is always something to discover in them. The two make a perfect team and while I didn’t love this storey as much as previous storeys, I look forward to seeing what the next storey in the treehouse has to offer.

You can purchase The 65-Storey Treehouse via the following

QBD | Dymocks | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Wordery | Publisher

78-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Published: 1st August 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Pan Macmillan Australia
Pages: 375
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Join Andy and Terry in their spectacular new 78-storey treehouse. They’ve added 13 new levels including a drive-thru car wash, a combining machine, a scribbletorium, an ALL-BALL sports stadium, Andyland, Terrytown, a high-security potato chip storage facility and an open-air movie theatre. Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!

Another 13 storeys means another grand adventure and zany levels to explore. This time poor Andy get pushed aside as Terry becomes the star of the new upcoming Treehouse movie and in true Terry style lets it go to his head and he becomes a little bit mean. Because there is no need of a narrator in this film, Andy must find ways to amuse himself which involves exploring the many new rooms of the treehouse including trying to hatch the giant egg, spinning the plates in the spinning room, and scribbling some more in the scribbling room.

This is a great Andy centred adventure because while Terry is the star of the film, Andy becomes the star of the book. I loved this, it’s fun and silly and hilarious in all the right places. Jill also makes an appearance, I’m always glad to see Jill get her time to shine in these stories, she’s a wonderful character.

Since I read this book instead of the audio I got to appreciate the drawings, and they were fantastic. When I read one of these with creative illustrations I forget the great audio Wemyss does to express the illustrations and admire Denton’s drawings instead. They are very funny and very clever, filled with little secret critters or comments, if you stare at them long enough you keep finding hidden gems in some of the more complicated ones that are both relevant and not relevant at all, and like all good illustrations they certainly bring something extra to the story. Griffith’s writing is wonderful but needs accompaniment whether it’s Denton’s drawings or the sound effects on the audiobooks and Wemyss’ voices.

I love that this book (and the whole series really) breaks the fourth wall, it goes a bit silly and illogical but that’s half the fun. Andy’s attempts at staying out of the way always end up interrupting the movie in some way and when nefarious things begin to happen, no one believes him.

I also loved that there are stages in the Treehouse stories, just when one aspect is solved something else happens, or while you are trying to enjoy one adventure something else pops up as well, skilfully coming together in the end with Griffiths clever writing. Writing which in itself can be delightfully convenient and illogical but which makes the story that much more enjoyable. I love the reality that this treehouse exists in where anything is possible and logic and physics don’t really need to play a part.

On top of the dazzle that is a Teehouse movie, you can also expect action and adventure in this book, you can also expect rhyming rants, suspicious cows, the ever delightful Mr Big Nose, as well as lot of Andy’s. Possibly one of my favourite treehouse books, not only because the writing is funny, but despite having the same basic formula for six books now, this is still an original story that goes in directions you didn’t even know it could take. I can only imagine what another 13 storeys is going to involve but I look forward to reading about it.

You can purchase The 78-Storey Treehouse via the following

QBD | Dymocks | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Wordery | Publisher

The 39-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Published: 1st September 2013 (print)/28th Sep 2013 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Pan Macmillan Australia /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 352/2 hours 5 minutes
Narrator: Stig Wemyss
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Andy and Terry’s amazing treehouse has 13 new levels including a chocolate waterfall, a non-erupting active volcano, an opera house, a baby-dinosaur petting zoo, Andy and Terry’s Believe it or Else! museum, a not-very-merry merry-go-round, a boxing elephant called the Trunkinator, an X-Ray room, a disco with light-up dance floor, the world’s scariest roller-coaster and a top secret 39th level that hasn’t even been finished yet!

So what are you waiting for? Come on up!

One thing that can be said about the audiobook experience of the Treehouse series is that Stig Wemyss really enjoys his role as narrator, and with the freedom and challenge of engaging children in an audio book his enthusiasm is a great draw.

Despite this, I do think this would have been a good one to read rather than listen to, there sounds like there would be a great assortment of pictures based on what happens. That is to say it wasn’t still enjoyable. As before, audio prompts, music, and sound effects make this just as enjoyable, maybe even more so; though I do feel like Terry’s drawings are being neglected, considering how much he talks about drawing in the books.

With another 13 storeys added to the treehouse another adventure awaits. Andy tells us what new things they have added to the treehouse, each as exciting and improbably and delightful as the previous things. Andy and Terry once again have a book due but Terry has a solution he’s been working on which naturally causes mayhem.

Terry also got a spotlight moment and a reprieve from being the daft friend, his drawing skills become essential and his illustration skills are commended. There’re also songs in this story, some more poems than songs, but one definite song, which Wemyss has to sing which was…an experience. I’m also learning that there will always be a recap of the book within the book, but thankfully it’s a fast recap.

Griffiths certainly had worked out a rhythm with this series. It’s repetitive, cheeky, silly, and all the fun and gross (but not too gross) things that make kids laugh. Once you get used to the structure of these books they become quite enjoyable, no matter your age.

You can purchase The 39-Storey Treehouse via the following

QBD | Dymocks | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Wordery | Publisher

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