Anh Do (text), Jules Faber (illus.) Spooky Weird! (WeirDo #9) Scholastic Australia, Sept 2017, 160pp., $14.99 (pbk) ISBN 9781760276775
Spooky Weird! is another engaging addition to comedian Anh Do’s WeirDo chapter book series. The cartoon-style illustrations and colourful use of text are reminiscent of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Here, however, an Asian family in an Australian setting is the focus and this is refreshing.
The main problems in this story are what Weir and his friend Bella will wear for Halloween and the more pressing issue of the Do family being forced to move. The solution to the first problem – they end up using balloons to dress-up as bunches of grapes – is funny. The solution to the second problem I felt was a bit of a cop-out for kids grappling with the scary concept of shifting house (not a particularly unusual issue for the target middle-primary age group but one that, understandably, can cause a great deal of angst). In the end – I’ll resist doing spoilers – things work out so that happily Weir’s family simply move a few doors down the road. While this was satisfying for the character and helped keep the story world in its status quo, I couldn’t help but feel that if I was a kid in similar circumstances looking for a bit of comfort in fiction, this wouldn’t quite cut it.
The childlike joy that Weir and his friends take in Halloween, however, is nicely portrayed and provides a good counterpoint for Halloween naysayers. I loved the illustrations of all his friends in their various costumes and could relate to the pleasure that comes from a serious lolly haul.
Reviewed by Heather Gallagher