Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reviews of My Children's Book "Black Baron", for 9 to 14 Year Olds

Review from
Reviewed by Sally Murphy, September 08

Black Baron is on the run.

Turning around, Dad glared at me and held up his hand like a policeman stopping traffic. “I’m not sharing my house with a cockroach as if…as if…” He flung his hands in the air, turned around and stormed off.

Black Baron didn’t take up much room, I thought. Besides, no one was using the space under my bed. “He’s not hurting anyone,” I tried again.

“It isn’t natural,” Dad said. “People don’t keep cockroaches as pets.”

Jake’s cockroach, Black Baron, is on a winning streak. In Fact, he’s probably the best racing cockroach ever. But Jake knows that Black Baron wouldn’t be welcome in the house if Mum knew he was there. That’s why Black Baron is kept under the bed, which is a great place until Mum tidies Jake’s bedroom and not only discovers the cockroach but also inadvertently releases it. When Dad calls in the exterminator, Jake thinks he’ll never see Black Baron again.

Black Baron is one title in the new Lightning Strikes series from Walker Books, a series aimed at 9 to 14 year old readers, and likely to engage reluctant readers with its contemporary look and non-threatening length. Black Baron is humorous, with chaos ensuing as Jake searches for his cockroach and tries to prevent it being exterminated, but also touches on serious issues such as family conflict and financial stress. The friendship Jake shares with his mates is also a very positive element of this story. A great read for upper primary aged readers.

Black Baron by Robyn Opie
Walker Books 2008

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Review from Otago Daily Times, New Zealand
6 September 2008

Latest offerings from series books impress

Black Baron by Robyn Opie (Walker Books, pbk, $15) is a fast-paced, short novel for junior readers who are just discovering chapter books.

The Baron is the best racing cockroach Jake has had, until his mum discovers it and targets it for extermination.

There are a couple of narrow escapes before the bug finds a sort of cockroach heaven.

Good fun.

- Raymond Huber is a Dunedin teacher.

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