RA Spratt (text), The Mystery of the Squashed Cockroach (The Peski Kids #1), Puffin Books, July 2018, 288 pp., $16.99 (pbk) ISBN: 9780143788812
I LOVED the premise for this book! It was totally unexpected and very cool. Without giving too much away, siblings Joe, Finn and April are happy enough living in the city with their absentminded palaeontologist mum, squabbling with each other like brothers and sisters do, until they have to move to a small country town. And live with their dad. Who they’ve never met. And change their surname to Peski!
I’m not going to tell you why – for that you have to read the book. As my 10-year-old says: “it’s awesome”. And I agree. Don’t be put off by the kind of lame sounding “mystery of the squashed cockroach” in the title – it’s actually quite dramatic. Everyone in their new town is mad about cockroach racing. Ewww, I know, but it’s actually a real thing, started in Brisbane in 1982. And at the kids’ new school, it is a serious sporting event. As is lawn bowls. Joe, Finn and April have to join in to fit in. But April’s not really a joiner. She’s pretty much the opposite, which doesn’t make it easy for her brothers. Not that April cares. She is straight-talking and feisty and does what she likes. Their scaredy-cat dad is no help either. And their neighbour is a beautiful sociopath.
The book is divided into 27 chapters, including some really short ones, making it perfect as a family read aloud where you can easily give in to requests to read “just one more chapter!”. I reckon it’s a book equally right for boys and girls too. I can’t wait to see how this new series unfolds. We’ll be keeping our eye out for the next book: The Peski Kids: Bear in the Woods.
Reviewed by Carissa Mason