Felice Arena (text) and Tom Jellett (illustrations), The Besties Show and Smell, Puffin Books, January 2020, 80 pp., RRP $9.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760890988
Ruby and Oliver are excited about school because today is show and tell. But when their teacher doesn’t turn up and is instead replaced by grumpy Mr Botham (whom the kids nickname Mr Mean Bottom), their day doesn’t look so fun.
The Besties is a new Australian early-reader series based on the adventures of Ruby and Oliver. More than just a story, these books are a complete package of fun. Besties: Show and Smell includes a step-by-step guide to making armpit fart noises, a comic, jokes, and ukulele chords and lyrics to the song that Ruby sings which can be found on the website. Somehow all of this is contained within the book’s 70 pages, meaning it’s not overwhelming for young readers.
The Besties: Show and Smell is a relatable, funny and easy-to read story. With the pictures occupying more space than the words, which are presented in a large, well-spaced font, The Besties is a good stepping stone from picture books to chapter books. Cleverly, the authors also pair books with music in a way that encourages kids to learn ukulele and sing.
The Besties books are perfect for early-primary readers and should be a fun, collectable series.
Reviewed by Bec Blakeney