Don't Look Now series by Paul Jennings & Andrew Weldon
Allen & Unwin, 2013. Book 1: Falling for It , The Kangapoo
Key Ring. ISBN 9781743311233.
Book 2: A Magician Never Tells, Elephant Bones. ISBN 978174331140.
Recommended for readers from 7-11 years. Themes: Family Life, Flight, School Life, Humour, Self-Perception, Friendship. Master storytellers Paul Jennings and Andrew Weldon have successfully collaborated on the Don't Look Now series. With two short amusing stories in each book, Jennings once again shows his understanding of the needs of his readers adding a dash of humour, quirky characters and tricky situations. Paul Jennings commented in a recent interview 'there are no illustrations, the pictures tell the story in a very strong way, and they take the story further.' Andrew Weldon the cartoonist for The Age newspaper was specifically chosen by Jennings to work in partnership on this series.
Jennings and Weldon present the readers with a really relatable character Ricky an ordinary boy with a quirky imagination whose one desire is to be famous. Ricky's secret talent is rather a hindrance to his goal because he really can fly but only when no-one is watching.
Each book begins with a fun labelled map of the setting. In Book 1 Falling for It Ricky is introduced and his special talent is discovered, a gift shared with his father. The reader quickly develops an understanding of his unusual character and his unique thoughts as the stories are told from Ricky's point of view. We see the strange twists of Ricky's mind as his class uses their imaginations cloud watching (poor rabbit!) Whilst developing his flying skills on the way to school land him in deep trouble down a five-metre hole. Ricky's motives are good but the practicalities of flying need some adjustment. In The Kangapoo Key Ring Ricky's Grandad had died taking the secret of the rare black poppy he was developing to his grave. Grandad's only legacy is a kangapoo key ring. On his next flying adventure he loses the key ring, is forced to fly naked covered in cow poo and ultimately lands in trouble with his Mum.
In Book 2, Ricky discovers a gorgeous girl at the carwash. Unfortunately he forgets to wind up the window resulting in a rather wet car, leading to his being grounded. His magician skills need a lot of practice and his flying does as well. Ricky redeems himself at the school concert in a very special way. Buried Treasure continues Ricky and his Dad's quest for fame, as they search for elephant bones buried in their backyard. Siren songs from Samantha his next door neighbour, more disastrous flying misadventures all lead Ricky astray and result in broken bones.