Birdbrain by Kelli Anne Hawkins

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In a land in Europe that does not really exist, Ludrovia, there is the potential for a great disaster - disguised as a great opportunity. In a small caravan in Australia lives a young girl named Hadley and her widowed father. Hadley’s father is full of whimsy and dad jokes and their pet budgie, Mr Beaks, has significant skills in making decisions. Is he the infamous birdbrain? Hadley herself is a smart, self-educated wonder and perhaps the brains of the caravan dwellers. Their life is not easy, but there is love despite their penury. Unexpectedly, Hadley and her father are whisked away to Ludrovia as the surviving royals. A terrible explosion has wiped out Hadley’s grandmother, the queen, and the entire royal family. In Ludrovia they discover a President who is strangely bizarre and uncover a plot by a Texan billionaire to take over the country. The idiocy of Ludrovia includes an annual Goat Day, fondue and cheese in abundance and strange idioms that are twisted and amusing. Hadley seems to be the only one not besotted by the cheese-loving billionaire’s plans for the future and she convinces her friends to help her prevent the unfolding devious disaster.

This is a fanciful and humorous adventure and is just delightful. I loved every page! The quirks of the characters and the far-fetched land of Ludrovia, plus the multiple dad jokes and wordplay woven through the story make this a funny journey into a non-existent but whimsical land. The main character is the only one with wisdom and this will appeal to children who will recognise that all the adults are far from insightful and clever.  This is a book that will appeal to young readers aged 8-11 who enjoy light-hearted adventure. There is nothing offensive in it… but with characters who variously collect back scratchers and mannequins, invent strange useless objects, consider cloning as a way to create a master race, or train goats to dance, or twist common idioms in ridiculous directions, there are certainly many routes to enjoyment in the book. Highly recommended as an entertaining escape.

Themes: Fantasy, Adventure, Family, Royalty, Friendship, Humour.

Carolyn Hull