Review Blog

Aug 29 2019

The birthday wars by Kate and Jol Temple

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Yours Troolie, Alice Toolie book 2. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760875435. 197p
(Age: 7+) Recommended. Epistolary novel. Alice Toolie and Captain Jimmy Cook communicate almost exclusively through notes, or rather letters, which are ostensibly written during class. We're not privy to the method of delivery but the publisher has photographed a scrapbook wherein each letter and reply is alternated, complete with drawings and doodles, by an assortment of patterned sticky tape.
The novel's problem is their only topic - their birthday parties are planned for the same day and time - September 19. Each was expecting a simple RSVP but Alice no sooner invites Jimmy to her Woodland Princess Tea Party, than Jimmy responds with his own invitation to his Antarctic Explorer Birthday Party. The book becomes a series of written entreaties for the other to change the date. They go beyond functional writing and resort to hilarious, overt parables. Frustration mounts as the other students in the class are conflicted about which party to attend.
Various ideas to decide the winner are proffered. Whilst some are untenable, a few ideas are tested. The jelly bean jar competition is foiled by Mr Macaloon, the relief teacher replacing Ms Fennel, who is taking a 3D printing course. The highlight is Jimmy's disappearance, which is followed by the disappearance of most of the class. In Ms Fennel's absence, Alice and Jimmy take it upon themselves to administer the class points system. That doesn't end well either.
Which ambitious Third Grader will triumph or will the birthday wars end in a truce? One thing is certain, this is another laugh-out-loud hit from the creators of Alice Toolie and Captain Jimmy books. In The birthday wars, Alice and Jimmy continue to be both very polite and very manipulative - in other words, extremely intelligent and interesting children.
Read more about the authors on their website.
Deborah Robins

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