Review – Pizza Cake by Morris Gleitzman

Kids love funny. Kids love short stories. Kids love great writing. Enter Pizza Cake, a collection of 10 short stories from the master of pleasing kids – Morris Gleitzman . . . an author who also happens to be a master at pleasing adults (as evidenced by the fact that I had to tousle over this book with my 11-year-old daughter).

In Pizza Cake, Gleitzman takes kids through a series of stories to delight, entertain and most subtly educate. In Saving Ms Fosdyke, Gleitzman’s subtleties and humour are in peak condition as we learn about the imminent departure of the coolest, most wonderful teacher at Emmy’s school. But Ms Fosdyke is not leaving for any flippant reason. She’s leaving because she’s needed by a school who can’t afford really great teachers – and she’s leaving for the petty sum of just $50 million.

Of course, the best teachers, the highest-paid job in the world, easily pull over $100 million in salary, and Ms Fosdyke is up there with the best. Emmy is devastated and sets about blocking her teacher’s move to the new school. Can she pull off a miracle?

In Secret Diary of a Dad, we meet a bumbling father who can’t do anything right. Told in the first person, his antics had me laughing out loud.

And in the book’s title story – Pizza Cake, we meet young Glenn, cricket fanatic, with a secret weapon – candy-covered pizza slices. That’s right. Pizza cake; a recipe handed down from his grandfather, who once convinced Glenn he could do ANYTHING so long as he had a slice of this pizza on hand.

When Glenn’s schoolmate Dougal has the daunting task of speaking at his Nan’s funeral, Glenn highly recommends taking along a slice of pizza cake – for bravado. Dougal does, but when Glenn unwittingly discovers that his grandfather’s ‘pizza cake’ is really just a play on words inferring something can be easier than it seems – ‘it’s a piece of cake’ – he knows Dougal’s in trouble. Can that fake talisman, a slice of candy-covered pizza, get Dougal through his Nan’s funeral?

At once touching, hilarious, cleverly-crafted and superlatively imaginative, Gleitzman has done it again with this wonderful collection. Presented in bite-size pieces, it’s guaranteed to both regale book-lovers and heartily encourage book-reluctants. If you or your kids want the corners of your mouth to be pulled up at the corners just moments into the first story, then this is absolutely the book for you.

Pizza Cake is published by Puffin. See more on Mr Gleitzman right here.

 

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Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an author of children's books and adult non-fiction. Recent books include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, and Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline. She's also an editor, publisher and founder of Kids Book Review.