Mr Bambuckle's remarkables by Tim Harris
Ill. by James Hart. Penguin Random House, 2017. ISBN 9780143785859
(Age: 7-10) Recommended. Humour. School life. Teachers.
What amazing, funny and strange things will happen when flamboyant and mysterious Mr. Bambuckle arrives to take charge of class 12B at Blue Valley School? The fifteen students arrive to see their new teacher riding a unicycle on top of his desk. After this, bacon, eggs and a self-heating frypan magically appear to cook his breakfast. Mr. Bambuckle knows so much about each of the fifteen class members, his insights are spot on, Vex Vron challenges him and is totally flustered when the teacher reveals his middle name - Wilberforce. He even allows the class to ask personal questions, he learnt to sing from his cousin an Icelandic rock star, his unicycle's from Lithuania and he has special powers.
With kindness and encouragement Mr. Bambuckle asks individual students to share their personal stories. Evie Nightingale's frightening experience with the washing machine from hell is first. She needs to face her fears, take the laundry downstairs, and load the evil machine in the basement. Last week the machine decapitated her teddy and this week it spits out all the clothes she puts in, when she uses the broom to load it, the handle is chomped into woodchips. How Evie escapes from the flooded basement and blocked door proves she can overcome her fears and be courageous.
Mr Bambuckle's conversation with Canteen Carol is clever, his method of turning her questions around and flummoxing her, allows the teacher to leave with a whole box of chocolate bars. With the extra energy of chocolate, the whole class spend the afternoon researching phone apps and brainstorming new ideas for apps that don't exist yet. Mr Sternblast the principal is enraged with the new teacher's style of teaching and tries to have him sacked. Harold Mcagil's use of the Parental Rental app is hilarious, as his over-the-top Scottish family embarrass him at an important school event. His bare-chested kilt-wearing father's singing 'Kilt of Fire' is one of his worst memories.
Tim Harris' novel and his new character Mr Bambuckle is an absolute delight to read aloud to Middle Primary classes. There's a cast of fun characters, unusual and exciting situations, different approaches to presenting the narrative all wrapped up with a teacher who shows empathy, understanding and acknowledges individuality. James Hart adds to the humour with his sketches, cartoons and caricatures. Where to next for this unique teacher?