Eric Vale: Off the Rails by Michael Gerard Bauer

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Ill. by Joe Bauer. Omnibus Books, 2013. ISBN: 9781862919945.
Recommended. I already have a cue of year 5 boys waiting at my door to be the first one to read the latest Eric Vale adventure. Such is the appeal of this series beginning with Epic Fail and followed by Super Male.
Eric Vale is in trouble with Principal Porter. His parents have been called in to hear his explanation of the 'very disturbing incident' which occurred that afternoon whilst on an excursion to the Museum.
The rest of the book is Eric's side of the story explaining how the school librarian Mrs Booth and a book titled Aliens - The Untold Story, Eric's best friend Chewey, and relief teacher Miss Allen, are responsible for Eric's bizarre behaviour over the school week and at the Museum.
The cartoons styled illustrations on each page add a hilarious commentary to the text as Eric becomes embroiled in the search for the truth about Miss Allen. The adventure of Agent Derek Dale as drawn by Eric in his journal, as a story within a story, adds to the fun. These illustrations are certainly integral to the success of the Eric Vale stories.
I love the way the chapters have been labelled the beginning, the middle and the end of his side of the story, reinforcing the narrative style of his story and separating it from the current events in the Principal's office.
Using bold and larger sized font to highlight individual words breaks up the text and adds to the appeal for children who find the closer, more regular text forms over a whole page daunting.
I look forward to the next adventure. What else rhymes with Vale? I think I'll start a competition with my enthusiastic fans, whoever gets the right rhyme reads the next book first.
Sue Keane