Alison Hart, A Class Full of Lizards (The Grade Six Survival Guide, #2), Allen & Unwin, March 2021, 208pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760877378
Jesse is back, in A Class Full of Lizards the highly amusing sequel to School Rules are Optional by Alison Hart. This time Jesse must endure a family health kick that is so bad he turns to early morning cross country just to get a decent feed, a best friend who seems to be drifting away and a persistent prep who befriends a lizard. And that’s not including keeping on the right side of Mrs Leeman and making it to the end of grade six unscathed.
A Class Full of Lizards follows Jesse and his friends through their last two terms of grade six with all their ups and downs. This book is even more polished than the first and that’s saying something as Alison Hart’s first book was almost flawless. The story is just as entertaining, just as authentic, and just as witty with an even more solid plot around it. It highlights some of the very real issues that Aussie kids in grade six face and tackles them in a laid back, frank, and funny way.
What makes this book so fabulous is that it is easy to read but still has a lot of depth. The themes of friendship and family are particularly strong and Jesse, although hilarious, still manages to grow as a person and come across as authentic. The pace of the story is also spot on for this readership with short sharp scenes and timely jumps to the most interesting bits of the year. I love the fact that it is so authentically Australian, and kids will relate to so many of the situations Jesse and his friends find themselves in, such as pesky prep buddies, boring assemblies and keen-bean student teachers.
I do however still stand by the comment from my previous review that illustrations would really elevate this book and possibly make it more appealing and accessible to its readership. But the book is so well written that its lack of illustrations is only a tiny negative.
A Class Full of Lizards is another fantastic, relatable, and authentically Australian take on grade six life. It will appeal to kids aged 10 – 13 who like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Huggabie Falls series by Adam Cece and The Power of Positive Pranking by Nat Amoore.
Reviewed by Renee Mihulka