Tim Harris (text), James Hart (illustrator), Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables Go Wild, Penguin Random House, September 2018, 240 pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780143789024
Mr Bambuckle is the sort of teacher every primary school child would love. He is cheerful, quirky and unpredictable. He has mysterious abilities, an affection for incredible creatures and somewhat unorthodox teaching methods. His class, 12B, are respected and valued and spend their time working on experiments, models, novels and projects. This is the third book in the series in which he takes the class on camp. The students are unpleasantly surprised to find their icy assistant principal, Miss Frost, has crashed their camp in order to monitor their learning and to see protocols are kept. Can they outwit Miss Frost in her survival challenge and save Scarlett from expulsion?
From a teacher’s point of view, there were many occasions to laugh out loud at Harris’ tongue-in-cheek poke at the education system. Although Miss Frost is extremely stereotypical, there are truths to the ‘tyranny of administration and procedures’. Through his teacher character, Harris champions creativity, lateral thinking, collaboration and resilience. This humorous novel tickled my sense of the peculiar and I loved the word play. The student profiles at the front were a great reference. I liked the variety in structure. Some chapters were written in third person, some were first person accounts by students. There were very funny chapters consisting of reflections, lists or conversations, such as the do’s and don’ts of how to put up a tent. The wacky illustrations enhance the read, helping to put a face to the many characters. The story ends with an unresolved problem, which will lead on to the next book, On the Lookout. Recommended for middle primary aged children or for anyone who loves a laugh. Also available as an eBook.
Reviewed by Sharon Seymour