Review Blog

Sep 16 2019

The adventures of Anders by Gregory Mackay

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760632076.
(Age: Junior readers) Highly recommended. Anders is a very appealing hyperactive yet easily scared squirrel who makes friends easily and has a lot of adventures. The first story in this compilation finds Anders at school on the last day of term. The colourful comic style frames are filled with detail, easily identified characters with no emphasis on whether they are boy or girl, and interesting points of view. Bernie (an elephant) is a new student in the class and Anders befriends him. They walk home together through the woods and hear noises that might be 'the Green Grabber' the older kids talk about. The chapter ends with what looks like an alien nearby, in a laboratory with a strange aircraft on the roof. The holidays start for Anders playing at home then at cousin Eden's house. They play on the trampoline and then with a bow and arrow Eden has made. Anders makes one too, to hunt the Green Grabber and Eden offers to help build a cubby in the woods. The next day Anders goes to play with Bernie in his cardboard box hideout and they design their cubby. They decide to check out the clearing in the woods but emerge in a world of the imagination (wavy lines around the panels make this clear) They cross a desert, requiring a trip to the fridge for ice blocks, and enter some rubbery tubes eventually to pop out into the reality of the clearing in the wood. They collect stuff to build their cubby but the next day it is all gone. While looking for it they come across strange footprints leading to a building in the woods, when the Green Grabber comes they are very scared but Eden meets him and finds out that he is really Dr Larsen who is building a giant telescope at the observatory where Anders' dad works. He offers to help them with their cubby. Each chapter develops a new adventure as the holidays progress including one where Anders finds a large beetle which he names Skip. Skip clings to Anders' back and flies with him so their adventures get more wide ranging. Scattered through the chapters are opportunities for learning about things like comets and aircraft and volcanoes but mostly the adventures are about having fun with your friends.
This bumper book of 445 pages includes three stories, two of which have been published previously. First time independent readers will enjoy the challenge of reading this themselves. The captions are short and the language accessible, the pictures support the text but add to it considerably. The short, contained chapters make this a good bedtime read and junior readers will still find enough to absorb them in this highly recommended book. Teacher's tips and a book trailer are available from the publisher's website.
Sue Speck

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