Double Dipping – Comic Strip Comedies

Derek Danger Dale Secret AgentJunior book series – do they sell? Often it is a question of semantics. Do kids love them? That answer is a no-brainer and when they are as first-rate as these are, it’s no wonder why.

Michael Gerard BauerHot on the heels of the sensationally popular Eric Vale series by Michael Gerard Bauer is Secret Agent Derek ‘Danger’ Dale The Case of Animals Behaving Really, REALLY Badly. It’s hard to imagine a storyline more epic than its 13-word title, but Bauer manages it with trademark, laugh-out-loud lunacy.

Derek Dale spins straight off the pages of Eric Vale’s journal, springing from imagination into real life with the fearless and somewhat increDerek Danger Dale imagedulous abandon of a male pray mantis looking for love. He is swarthy and buff, with a Dr. Chris Brown jawline that makes your eyes water. And he’s the worst hope Secret Agents R Definitely NOT Us has of defeating the vile genius of evil Doctor Evil MacEvilness. Doc Evil is on a mission to abscond with the world’s biggest diamond by duping the four most deadly animals on the planet into servitude. Can Derek Dale bumble his shirtless way through their attempts to destroy him and outwit MacEvilness while maintaining his secret-agentness and remaining in his boss’s good books? You’ll have to laugh your way through this tongue-in-cheek high-energy spoof to find out.

Bauer, along with his talented son, Joe Bauer’s cartoon-strip-esque illustrations, elevate Eric Vale’s imagined adventurer into riotous superhero status. Secret Agent Derek Dale dispenses with the emotional depth of Eric Vale, being more suited to the younger siblings of readers of the first series but still delivers the laughs and packs plenty of goofball punches. Move over Captain Underpants, there’s a new hero in town, who really, REALLY needs a shorter name.

WeirDo 2Speaking of shorter names, spare a thought for Weir, Weir Do. WeirdDo 2 Even Weirder! is Book 2 in a zany new series for 6 – 8 year-olds by award winning author and hilarious stand-up comic, Anh Do (as in rhymes with go – getting it now?).

Illustrated by Jules Faber, WeirDo 2 follows the popular format of heavily illustrated cartoon-like, side-splittingly humorous novels that cause kids to smash open their piggy banks.

Anh Do

Weir is the product of a weird family. His mum is cheap, his sister is borderline obsessive compulsive, his little brother, Roger chucks everything into the bath, and his dad has an uncanny way of drawing out his bodily emissions. It’s all pretty straightforward bizarreness until Weir gets hung up on the seventh best-looking girl in school, Bella. He is keen to impress her the best way he knows how, with one of his drawings.

He thinks he’s in with a chance when she invites him to her birthday party but things turn typically weird starting with a severe case of the ‘finkles’. How Weir and his family turn disaster into divinely good fun makes for one of the most wacky, comical reads I’ve had for a while. WeirdDo 2, Even Weirder! is a rib tickling and surprisingly tender look at today’s social diversity, family make-up, and how little kids with unfortunate names fit into the mix. Plus it has a snazzy animated motion cover too. Ripper!

Both books available now here.

Scholastic Australia 2014

 

Review – Eric Vale Epic Fail – Stocking stuffer suggestion

Kids aren’t always especially nice to each other. From the most tender of ages they are on the lookout for ways to demoralise, break-down and lord it over each other. It’s all part of your basic survival of the fittest mentality and the procurement of stupid nicknames is one small but powerful weapon in this on-going battle for supremacy.

Now, I’m of Asian descent with a skin type that deepens to ‘kalamata olive’ with repetitive sun exposure. My name is Dimity, habitually shortened to Dim. Put all three together as some enterprising class mates of mine did and you’ve got yourself a ‘burnt Dim Sim’. That little gem must have completely depleted their collective mental arsenal.

Eric Vale Epic FailMichael Gerard Bauer’s comic romp, Eric Vale Epic Fail, illustrates one kid’s classic demise, the misappropriation of a really stupid (but undeniably funny) nickname and his subsequent attempts to rid himself of it. This book did unintentionally throw me back amongst the dim sims but in a sinfully hilarious way.

Eric Vale is your normal Year Five kid who in spite of drifting off in class whenever his ‘brain goes on a hike’ which is quite a bit, manages to distil most of his creativity and genius into his action adventure stories.

He has an overactive imagination, a best mate whose idea of a bad day simply doesn’t exist, and a nemesis in the shape of one Martin Fassenbender; perfect components for a knock-me-down, tie-me-up and rescue-me-before-the-train-hits adventure. The kind of adventure in fact, that Secret Agent Derek ‘Danger’ Dale encounters on an hourly basis.

Michael G Bauer Bauer deftly manoeuvres Eric through a series of epic fails with hilarious alacrity and style. Unlike the poetically funny tomato sauce incident, readers are not slathered with a thick morass of morals. Ethnicity, individualism, fitting in and good old fashioned mateship are all treated with a robust finesse but told with that in-your-face jocularity that midgrade readers find so addictive.

I really feel for Eric Fail – er Vale. Who wouldn’t? He’s the dreamer, the schemer and ultimately tenacious enough to score on many levels. And he represents at least fifty per cent of kids in the school yard with ludericous labels, like Dim Sim. But I love his best mate Chewy more. You could practically drown in Chewy’s irrepressible buoyancy. His glass is never just half full, it’s overflowing.

Joe Bauer illoIt took me a few pages to adjust to the relaxed layout and jaunty comic book style of Eric Vale Epic Fail, but Joe Bauer’s zany illustrations eased my transition into the graphic style chapter book (Grapter if you like) superbly. Outrageously daring and 100% reflective of his father’s humour, Joe’s talent is as delightfully deadly as a Big Bob head squeeze.

‘If you think you can, you WILL’ enjoy this epic read. Any 10 year olds undoubtedly will. And the best bit: Eric Vale lives on in two more books in this series, Eric Vale Super Male released April 2013 and Eric Vale Off the Rails released August 2013.Eric Vale OtR Eric Vale SM

And if that wasn’t enough, stay tuned for the spin off series featuring your favourite secret agent Derek ‘Danger’ Dale. Destined to be another epic win.

Scholastic Australia November 2012

Stock up for Christmas with all of Michael Gerard Bauer’s books here.