Michael Pryor (text), Jules Faber (illus.) Leo Da Vinci vs the Ice-cream Domination League Random House Australia, 3 August 2015, 181pp., $14.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780857988379
This is the first in a series of stories which will appeal to girls and boys for its laughable inventions and funny carryings on. Leo Da Vinci is ten years old and socially awkward at school, often daydreaming but with tolerant teachers who wonder how he keeps so far ahead of the class when he often appears to drift off in his thoughts. He is an inventor and Head of Fixit International Inc., with a steam powered robot that always has parts falling off and a talking pig as his team. Things change when a girl from school knocks on the door and joins them as Probationary Member Mina. Their major problem is that ice-cream trucks are disappearing and then ice-cream factories are being blown up. The Ice-Cream Domination League is up to something and there is also arch villain Wild Wilbur to deal with.
The format suits this age group well, with short chapters, good sized font, and quirky illustrations to add meaning and humour to the text. The illustrations echo traits of the real Leonardo with mirror writing and labelling of snappy inventions and an illustration of Mina based on the Virtruvian man. In the text there are references to Mrs Giocondo, the next door neighbour with the strange smile. These may need explaining to students and will enhance the cleverness of the writing. A good read for independent reading 8 year olds and over, as well as read aloud to 7 to 10 year olds.
Reviewed bu Julie Long