Cameron Stelzer, Scallywags and the Stormy Secret (Scallywags #4), Daydream Press, Brisbane, August 2019, 240 pp., RRP $16.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780648280439
Scallywags and the Stormy Secret is the fourth book in the School of Scallywags (SOS) series which is a romp of fun and silliness about a school for young student pirates who “need a little help to reach their full potential”. This 4th episode takes on a mystery genre, with plenty of humour, as the SOS students spend a rainy school day solving the mystery of who is responsible for the disappearance of the bunnies of Shark Tooth Island.
There is a bit of mystery and plenty of laughs in this story of anthropomorphised animals, each displaying characteristics indicative of the animal they represent. The cat spends her days curled up catnapping, the crocodile is school bully, the frog is a Hop-a-thon champion and swimming teacher, and so on. The names assigned to the characters add to the playfulness – Benny Banana Peel is a gangster rapper monkey, Mrs Nibbleworth is the rabbit teacher, Samuel So’n Slow is a sleepy sloth, Hot Chips is the pigeon – just to name a few. Amongst the several eccentric characters are the verbose toucan actor who talks in Shakespearean English and the glamorous frog with a croaky, French accent.
There is a bit (not too much) of the usual gross humour and toilet humour. Overall, though, the humour is clever and original. Just to name two clever and amusing play-on-words – the cat’s brooding artistic style is referred to as “cat-astrophe seasick art”, the gangster rap rhyme about the teacher’s perfume is “scentimental”. There are also funny, absurd scenarios, such as the toucan impersonating a dentist. The funny gangster rap rhymes are entertaining too.
Cartoon style drawings add to the humour and further develop the absurd characters with visual depictions of their features, facial expressions and absurd clothing.
Newly confident readers, about 7- 9 years old, will enjoy this book’s original and amusing humour and will want to keep reading to discover the solution to the mystery of the disappearing bunnies.
Reviewed by Barbara Swartz