Felice Arena, Marcus Emerson, Andy Griffiths, Katrina Nannestad, Yvette Poshoglian, James Roy, Lisa Shanahan, Matt Stanton, and Penny Tangey (text), and Andrea Innocent (illustrator), Laugh Your Head Off 4 Ever, Pan Macmillan, October 2018, 232 pp., PPR $19.99 (hbk), ISBN
This book is come-alive engaging fun presented by a talented cast – Andy Griffiths, Felice Arena, Yvette Poshoglian, Marcus Emerson, Matt Stanton, Katrina Nannestad, James Roy, Lisa Shanahan and Penny Tangey. Each has written from the protaganist’s view-point so it really is a first-person-I recognise-me book. Every character’s voice is definite and we recognise them instantly as situations encountered by us with someone near, or not always dear, to us. These kids have some awkward moments – the terror and ultimate thrill of a runaway pram ride, the sheer frustration of siblings, the quest for parent payback, and that one teacher who just doesn’t understand us. Life is definitely a challenge for the under 12’s.
However, amidst the madness there is certainly gentleness to evoke empathy with the characters. They are likable and we are with them all the way as life presents its twists, turns and unexpected outcomes; we even like them when we know the result of their exploits won’t necessarily be what they are expecting.
The presentation of this book is also to be applauded and Andrea Innocent acknowledged for her clever under-stated illustrations. By using a limited colour palette of yellow and black on white, she has skilfully contained the distraction that using the entire colour spectrum can create which keeps the reader focused on the characters that Innocent draws so delightfully and the situation. The strong separation of each story with bright yellow pages provides a definite visual conclusion; and the illustrated title page that follows creates anticipation for the next.
Laugh Your Head Off 4 Ever brings quite a claim within its title; a claim that can evoke trepidation in the reader. But, rest assured, it has well and truly been achieved by the talents of the much-admired authors of this book.
Read it out loud to children of all ages; use it to assist young readers who find a whole book just too daunting; and encourage the independent readers to curl up with it for an amusing afternoon. It’s a joy to read and these are definitely stories for kids of all ages, including grown-ups.
Reviewed by Jennifer Mors