The 91-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Published: 8th August 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Pan Macmillan Australia
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Join Andy and Terry in their ridiculous 91-storey treehouse! Go for a spin in the world’s most powerful whirlpool, take a ride in a submarine sandwich, get marooned on a desert island, hang out in a giant spider web, visit the fortune teller’s tent to get your fortune told by Madame Know-it-all and decide whether or not to push the mysterious big red button. Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!

This might be up there as one of my favourites of the Treehouse books. It’s silly, but clever, filled with adventure and you can’t help but love these characters as they go on these wild adventures and get into all kinds of strife.

Griffiths’ talent is that one thing blends so well into another as he’s telling the story. Madam Know-it-all leads into the Big Button which gives us a hint at the story to come as Andy and Terry must scramble to make sense of the clues and cryptic answers. I also love how Griffiths links together all of the new storeys and they get to become part of the new adventure and not just an unseen addition.

Andy and Terry go on another adventure in this book with Mr Big Nose’s grandchildren in tow. There are wonderful references in this book to other pop culture things such as Narnia, The Beatles, and 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, all with a delightful twist that suit the Andy and Terry universe. I loved the humour that comes through in both the writing and the illustrations and the balance between serious and silly is great, you know these boys can get into strife without it ever getting too serious, but serious enough that it’s engaging and adventurous.

With these wonderful adventures are also the brilliant accompaniment of Denton’s illustrations. Depending on the story, Denton’s illustrations can be simple or incredibly complicated. This is one of those great times because the amount of detail Denton has put into these drawings is amazing.  There are some wonderfully clever drawings as Andy and Terry try to wrangle the grandchildren on their myriad of adventures through the many exciting new storeys filled with tiny surprises for the keen eyed reader.

These books are quirky and funny and the more you read the more they grow on you. It will be interesting to see how high Griffiths and Denton plan to take this, because surely they are going to run out of tree eventually. Until then I will look forward to the continuing antics of Andy and Terry.

You can purchase The 91-Storey Treehouse via the following

QBD | Dymocks | Book Depository

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Wordery | Publisher

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 Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon

 Published: 4th April 2011 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Scholastic
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Genre:
 Junior Fiction
★    ★    ★    ★  – 4 Stars

All Tom Gates wants to do is get tickets to see his favourite band when they come to town. It’s not easy when he’s up against Delia, his weirdo big sister. All of his plans seem to get him into major trouble!

I wasn’t expecting this to be such a funny book. I was reading and actually laughed out loud at some of the things Pichon has written. It was such a different experience than Wimpy Kid where I disliked it almost immediately. The premise is the same (young kid, diary, shenanigans) but the reading experience and the content is so much better. It’s a case of English versus American which accounts for the differences and once you realise that you understand the different styles of humour.

I will admit, Tom is a little mean, but it’s childlike and a bit more innocent. The kind of annoying kid in class that make teachers want to retire early and hold back their exasperated sighs. It’s fairly harmless joking and being an annoying younger brother than actually being cruel or deceitful. You believe that Tom is being himself and not really thinking things through, there is no real intended malice in his actions.

He isn’t constantly like this though; for the most part, he is a young kid who is in a band with his friend, he is embarrassed by his dad’s clothes, wants to see his favourite band, and tries to impress a girl at school. When he gets in trouble he learns his lesson and there is a cheekiness about Tom that makes you smile, even when he is in the wrong.

One of the things I loved is that it’s very interactive with the inclusion of the pictures. Tom is a character who doodles in his school books and you experience his days through his drawings on the page as much as the words he’s written. It goes beyond one drawing per page, there are drawings through the text and pages where it is just drawings and a random array of Tom’s thoughts and emotions. It portrays a young boy’s book extremely well and I can’t wait to keep reading the series.

You can purchase The Brilliant World of Tom Gates via the following

QBD | Booktopia

Book Depository | Dymocks

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Audible | Fishpond | Wordery

Mr Stink by David Walliams

Published: October 2009
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins Children’s
Pages: 267
Format: Book
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

“Mr Stink stank. He also stunk. And if it was correct English to say he stinked, then he stinked as well…”

It all starts when Chloe makes friends with Mr Stink, the local tramp. Yes, he smells a bit. But when it looks like he might be driven out of town, Chloe decides to hide him in the garden shed.

Now Chloe’s got to make sure no one finds out her secret. And speaking of secrets, there just might be more to Mr Stink than meets the eye… or the nose.

I think I liked this. I did and then I didn’t then I did again. It had moments of being sweet but then it would go silly again and then weird, then it would circle back to being sweet. At best I think it was a peculiar story, one that certainly left me with a lot of questions. At the core of it Mr Stink is a homeless Mary Poppins. He comes into the lives of the Crumb family and makes it a bit better.

At the start we are introduced to poor Chloe Crumb, living in her sister’s shadow, bullied by her as well as the kids at school, and she is never good enough for her mother. We are also told about Mr Stink, the man who smells so incredibly terrible who sits on a bench all day long with his dog.

I liked the characters Walliams has created. Mrs Crumb has a touch of Hyacinth Bucket in her, while poor suffering Mr Crumb has to put up with her. Chloe’s sister Annabelle is the snobby, bratty little sister who is spoiled and adored by her mother, and seeing her be cruel to Chloe was a bit heartbreaking. There were some jokes around Annabelle I liked; especially the ones about how full Annabelle’s schedule is trying to fit in all her extracurricular activities. I also liked the camaraderie between Chloe and her dad, their small actions of defiance against her mother’s demands.

One character I never fully understood was Mr Stink. Once you get to the core of his story it is quite serious for a children’s book, Walliams goes from silly jokes, to serious moments then back to silly jokes. The seriousness came out of nowhere and I was very surprised. It didn’t feel like it had a place in this light-hearted story, but Walliams throws these moments in there a lot as it goes on, making you think there is going to be a more heartfelt direction, and there is, to his credit, but it never lasts as long and is still surrounded by these obscure and silly jokes.

Another thing that confused me was the changes in Mr Stink’s personality. Sometimes he seems like a normal homeless person, bit eccentric ok, but normal enough. But then other times he seems delusional about what year it is or how money works. It distracted from the story and interrupts your sense of trying to work out who Mr Stink is as a character. He seems to be two people without actually meaning to be, especially after you understand his personal story.

I listened to this as an audio book and Walliams narrated it with the help of Matt Lucus. They both did a great job, the story translated well to audio well and with the pair of them doing a variety of voices it was a fun listen. It had the humour that kids books have with jokes about being dirty and doing gross stuff, but it also had a little bit of heart in it as well. It is sweet but it is weird, and felt like it could have been a bit more than what it was, but that might be asking a bit much of a children’s book that was just meant to be a bit funny with a fun story.

 

You can purchase Mr Stink via the following

Book Depository | QBD

Booktopia | Wordery

Fishpond | A&R Bookworld

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