Review Blog

Sep 25 2020

Brain Freeze by Oliver Phommavanh

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Penguin Random House, 2020. ISBN: 9781760897147.
(Age: 10-14 years)Highly Recommended. Brain Freeze contains twelve entertaining stories written by the comedian and well know author Oliver Phommavanh. Each story holds the reader's interest with a clever use of humour, drama and a realistic solution. All of the stories feature an aspect of tween to teen family or school life that may be a source of angst for those students in that particular age bracket. These include acceptance of family values, parents supporting children and vice versa, friendship, cultural differences, school events, competition, embarrassing moments; just to name a few. In Quaranteen the author focuses on the pandemic and the momentous first lockdown Australia endured. This time at home created a new world of online learning and bloopers especially if you leave your microphone on during virtual class time or you have your embarrassing mother taking photos all day - just ask Vee.
It was an ingenious idea for the author to include characters out of his well-known novels to create a thoughtful connection for the reader. Sweet and Sour reintroduces Lengy from Thai-riffic! and he features in Super-Essential Thai-riffic! another story which looks at the implications of the pandemic on families. First Dog on Mars tells the story of Rover who inadvertently ends up being in a capsule on his way to Mars. He is terrified but discovers two fleas, Antoine and Zappo, have hitched a ride and support him with his anxieties about visiting Mars.
Brain Freeze is a perfect read aloud for a classroom teacher at the end of a long school day as the stories are reasonably short, the humour is appealing and students will be able to identify with familiar situations. Themes: Humour, Imagination.
Kathryn Beilby

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