Tristan Bancks (text), Gus Gordon (illus.), My Life and Other Weaponised Muffins (My Life #5), Random House Australia, 27 Feb, 2017 , 194 pp., $15.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780143781066
There’s a wise, ancient saying that I like to quote. ‘Sometimes life can give you an atomic wedgie. Don’t even bother to pick it out.’ Say Weird-Tom
My Life and Other Weaponised Muffins is the fifth instalment in the My Life series aimed at upper primary aged readers and starring the effortlessly funny, Tom Weekly.
To say that I enjoyed this book is an understatement, Tom Weekly loves to write and draw and this fabulous mish-mash of stories, jokes, cartoons and quizzes had me laughing out loud and, on occasion, feeling a tad queasy (particularly in the chapter about Pop Weekly’s yeasty toe jam!)
Always caught up in the most cringe-worthy of situations, Bancks’ Tom Weekly character is immediately likable, with each of his semi-autobiographical tales channelling a ‘stranger than fiction’ authenticity to which any young reader will have no trouble relating.
The usual real-life themes surrounding friends and family life are explored with a healthy dose of humour and some outstanding characterisation, with his clean-eating, Dalai Lama obsessed mum; Stella Holling, the girl who constantly tries to trick, swindle and bribe Tom into kissing her and his good pal, Lewis Snow and his chronic head-lice infestation, to name but a few.
Tom Weekly navigates the angst ridden, embarrassment laden life of a kid with a self-aware and effortlessly witty narrative that reminds me of the Sue Townsend’s brilliant Secret Diary of Adrian Mole books I used to adore so much as a child.
Bancks demonstrates a real knack for knowing the kind of topics and challenges that really engage the child reader, with chapters dedicated entirely to the ‘Would You Rather?’ game (Would you rather be buried alive in marshmallows or smarties?) and an deliciously gross selection of Guinness World Records. He provides a perfectly pitched level of light entertainment whilst Tom Weekly’s astute and down right disparaging view of characters like Mr Skroop, the deputy head teacher, also showcases the author’s ability to identify so well with his young readers, understanding that frankly, life as a kid can be tough sometimes.
‘Over time, if I can allow adults to turn me into a robot with no feelings or originality, and do exactly what they say all the time, maybe I’ll get my video games and pocket money back.’
At various points throughout the book, the reader is encouraged to put pen to paper and write for their own enjoyment. As the writer-ambassador for literacy charity Room to Read the author’s excitement and passion for storytelling is contagious and sure to inspire many of his young readers to take up the challenge and write their own stories, interview and experiences.
As well as providing some uniquely alternative writing prompts for upper-primary children, I’ll be sure to collect the whole series for my own children. This title is a laugh a minute, ripe-roaring read for adults and children alike.
Reviewed by Lisa Mercer
- Read Deborah Abela’s review of My Life and Other Exploding Chickens (My Life #4)
- Read Barbara Swartz’ review of this title