Review Blog

Feb 28 2019

Simon Sidebottom 2: Too cool for school by P. Crumble and Dean Rankine

cover image

Koala Books, 2018. ISBN 9781743810392.
Simon Sidebottom doesn't have time to be an endearing fleshed out character. His goal is to say and do ridiculous things and have ridiculous things said and done to him - over and over. Being forced to clean up his sibling's projectile vomit doesn't sound like a particularly nice or realistic home life, but a school full of repellent staff and students isn't that nice either. Perhaps Simon too, is a revolting boy? Perhaps this is the typical fate of the comic novel anti-hero?
At the beginning of term, Simon falls asleep while his new teacher (Ms Graff aka Ms Giraffe) and the Principal (Mr Smart-Felling aka Mr Fart-Smelling) are team teaching. Waking abruptly, he disrupts the class meeting and as punishment he is made to play the part of the school mascot (a ferret) for the entire year. His reluctance to comply leads him to be in the wrong places at the wrong times, usually flashing his underpants, and, where he will no doubt continue to say, do or experience incredulously stupid things. These include: retrieving the school ferret from the sewers where it has fled, or jumping inside Prof Nutbeam's time machine, or listening to Mr Spitnpolish's confession that he is actually Simon's future self!
The book is not a linear narrative but of the Pick-a-path / Choose-your-own-adventure genre. Setting a hectic pace, middle schoolers will appreciate the toilet humour. There's plenty to choose from - farts, stinky sewers, ratty toenails, swollen bums, plagues of cockroaches, snot, vomit, underpants, trousers full of ferrets, boogers, hairy legs, girl germs, dog poo, ferret poo, toilets, Principals with rubbery arms, etc. After each active event, (there are no stative events) the reader is confronted by the phrase, "Then a funny thing happened..." followed by a choice of prompts with page numbers. Readers choose exactly what further nonsense Simon may navigate. After many ridiculous events, readers develop a strong urge to choose a path that leads to one or more of the proffered endings and the relief of reading, "The End".
If you like frenetic, totally gross, non-stop action, then you will thoroughly enjoy the empowering to-ing and fro-ing, retracing your steps so that you miss none of the gross bits on your journey to each potential solution.
Deb Robins

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