Review Blog

Feb 06 2018

Freaks on the loose by Leigh Hobbs

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760294311
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Humour. Schools. Teachers. Subtitled, 'The whole scary story', Leigh Hobbs' hilarious stories, 4F for freaks and Freaks ahoy! have been collected into one volume.
The first outing for this class, 4F, with little aptitude for learning, is presented when Miss Corker confronts them on her first day ever as a teacher. Their behaviour is appalling and she develops a great idea to control the group, but in the sequel, Freaks ahoy!, her disguise has become stuck, and so it is up to One-Eyed Eileen to try her hand at unmasking the villain. But with a busload of teachers to poke fun at, anarchy reigns supreme and kids will not be able to stop themselves laughing.
Each of the stories is presented in short, easily read chapters, most of each page filled with very funny illustrations. The large print, 'Warning to teachers', in the introductory pages and the cavalcade of portraits at the end will help engage the most reluctant of readers.
A third section, 'Freaks line up', rounds off the volume, and presents pictures of each of the characters in the book, including the long suffering Miss Corker, and the permanently broken armed Headmaster, along with One-Eyed Eileen, Scary Mary and Feral Beryl amongst others.
Leigh Hobbs is well known for his wonderful picture books featuring Old Tom, Horrible Harriet, Fiona the Pig, Mr Badger and Mr Chicken. Old Tom is now a loved TV series, and Hobbs has won many Australian children's choice awards. Shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards, my favourite, Mr Chicken goes to Paris is a bestseller at Paris's Louvre Bookshop, was adapted for the stage by NIDA, and was shortlisted for the CBCA Awards - as were Horrible Harriet and Old Tom's Holiday. A stage adaptation of Horrible Harriet premiered at the Sydney Opera House in 2017. Hobbs is a wonderfully entertaining author with an array of characters designed to appeal to every reader from pre-school to adult.
Fran Knight

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