James O’Loghlin (text) Matthew Martin (illustrator),Very Popular Me (The New Kid #2), Pan Macmillan Australia, June 2019, 216 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760554835
James O’Loghlin writes very funny books. It is easy to laugh out loud at Sam, his mother and father as they blunder through James O’Loghlin’s version of their family life, school life and life in general. The story of this little novel isn’t as important as the fun we have along the way—that’s what really matters. Sam, in this installment of his adventures, finds himself suddenly very popular at school, then just as abruptly very unpopular on account of becoming a teacher’s pet, despite his best efforts to un-pet himself from his teacher.
Along the way he becomes a big brother to a baby sister who can’t yet play cricket with him, but does keep his mother out of his hair to some extent – almost enough to allow him to have a girl friend. I can imagine young readers consuming these books so quickly they will want more of them faster than James O’Loghlin can write them. Matthew Martin’s cartoons along the way participate in the fun, making their own visual play with Sam’s dilemmas. The drawing of Sam on the toilet staring mesmerized at his Tom Boulder marble is a witty triumph.
Recommended for readers 5 to 12 years old and highly recommended for parents of children 5 to 12 years old.
Reviewed by Kevin Brophy