Review Blog

Jan 23 2017

The complete adventures of Figaro and Rumba by Anna Fienberg

cover image

Ill. by Stephen Michael King. Allen & Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760292997
(Age: 5-8) Recommended. Early chapter book. Humour. Friendship. Adventure. With two Figaro and Rumba stories in one book, newly independent readers will thrill to the adventures of these two friends.
In the first story, 'Figaro and Rumba and the crocodile cafe', good friends Figaro the dog and Rumba the cat plan to catch the Very Fast Train to the beach. But their friend, Rat, has lost his friend, Nate, and so an adventure begins.
King's wry illustrations set the scene perfectly, adding a level of humour and anticipation which readers will adore.
This six chapter book will enthrall and delight as they read of this wonderful pair of characters and their friends. Chapter four sees them on the train at long last, but in the carriage of a very shady character, a crocodile. With his easy charm and wonderful waistcoat, he invites them to his cafe, redolent of Cuba where Rumba was born. Figaro, with some suspicion of the crocodile decides not to stay, but goes off to explore. He finds cats locked in a small shed and ringing the police, learns that the crocodile is a cat-napper, ready to add Rumba to his captives.
A lovely story, neatly resolved, it is full of things to take note of: invitations from strangers, friendship, holidays with friends on a train, learning to swim and taking risks for a friend while learning a little about Cuba and the Spanish language. But the main thing is the story of friends helping each other, and along with the lively illustrations, will be sought after.
The second story, 'Figaro and Rumba and the cool cats' sees Figaro singing along with the Cool Cats at their rehearsal. The cats are those rescued from the crocodile's cages in the first of the two stories. The lead singer cannot cope with Fig's howling and barking, even if he does so very quietly. Rolando the cleaner, a small sloth also found in the cage, listens halfheartedly to Fig's complaints.
But another friend has the keys to the singers' Catmobile, and with Fig convinced he has seen a monster in the car, they go off on another adventure.
Both stories have a wide appeal to readers newly attempting chapter books for themselves and with stories like these, will be most satisfied.
Fran Knight

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