A mad-cap adventure that’s reminiscent of stories by Roald Dahl and David Walliams. Kids will love this.
Dani’s mum is a zoologist which – according to Dani – means she’s obsessed with penguins’ bums. There are lots of penguins in Antarctica and it’s, therefore, not surprising that Dani’s mum can’t turn down the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a three month expedition to study her beloved penguins in their natural habitat. But where does that leave Dani? Mum thinks it means sending Dani to a sensible boarding school for girls. Dani hates the idea and she hates the school even more when she arrives and discovers the new headteacher has made some rather unusual changes. Dani’s convinced there is no way she’ll ever fit in in a school where students run wild, where the receptionist barely speaks English, and where they have to remember to lock their dormitory door to keep out the resident goat.
This is a mad-cap adventure that’s in many ways reminiscent of stories by Roald Dahl or David Walliams. Indeed, author – Karen McCombie – sets the tone from the outset when Dani introduces us to Mum’s obsession with penguins’ bums. If you think that’s a little strange, however, it’s nothing to the story that follows. For example, we know there is something very different about the school from the moment Dani and her Mum enter the school grounds and encounter a statue of St Grizela dressed in a pair of pink polka dot sunglasses with an Elsa-from-Frozen lunchbox dangling from her hand. From here on things just get stranger and stranger as Dani takes some very odd lessons and is invited to join in with some very unusual activities.
The story is at times silly and won’t be to everyone’s taste. However, fans of Roald Dahl and David Walliams will love this book and a large proportion of kids will enjoy the daft plot. They’re also likely to adore Becka Moor’s wonderful black and white illustrations. I particularly liked the regular motif of Dani’s T-Rex and also the outline shadows in Chapter 9.
If you enjoyed this story about an unusual school, you should also try Creature Teacher by Sam Watkins. Alternatively, why not try one of Karen McCombie’s other books? I’m told You, Me and Thing: The Curse of the Jelly Babies is very good.
Publication date: January 2017
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Author’s website: Karen McCombie
Review first published on The Bookbag