THE SUZIE K DIARIES, FILES #3 and #4 Written by Shamini Flint & Illustrated by Sally Heinrich

Reviewed by Angela Marie

Two more Suzie K Diaries and two readers (who reviewed Files 1 & 2) very excited to learn that the new Suzie K books have arrived. Would they please read them and share their thoughts? Would they ever! Our avid readers are Olive, now six and a half, and Harper counting down the days until her ninth birthday.

SHOW STOPPER! File #3

export as show stopper

“This must be Mum’s latest attempt to make me The LAUGHING-STOCK OF THE SCHOOL…the LAUGHING-STOCK OF THE TOWN…the LAUGHING-STOCK OF THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!”

Angela Marie: Olive, please tell me about Show Stopper. Did you enjoy it?

Olive: Yes, mmm, I did enjoy it!

AM: What was this about?

O: Suzie K’s mum thought that Suzie K would be very popular in the talent show and so Suzie K pretended… So she didn’t tell her mum that she actually wasn’t going to do the talent show.

AM: Why didn’t she want to do the talent show?

O: Because she thought she had no talent.

AM: Did she use the problem-solving strategy that she used in her previous stories?

O: Yes – Identify the Problem, Analyse the Problem, Find a Solution. She thought she didn’t have any talent, so that’s skipping a few big bits, so Suzie K tried to fit into some other groups, but then when that didn’t work she came up with another solution. And after she tried fitting into other groups, she helped others.

AM: What was your favourite part of the book?

O: I liked when Suzie K didn’t win the talent show but she was still happy.

AM: Would you recommend this book to someone else?

O: I would recommend it for Selena, my friend.

AM: Why is that?

O: Well, I think she would like it because that’s the type of book that she likes. Like what happens in the story. I think that she would like it.

Author Shamimi Flint and illustrator Sally Heinrich have again created a treasure of a book, aimed at mid-primary readers but guaranteed to captivate all. Again the reader sympathises with Suzie K whose frenetic mother does everything with the best of intentions and whose brother, Jack, taunts and ridicules as only a sibling can.

In Show Stopper, through the agony of attempting to identify a usable talent for the show (not forgetting her reliable and time-tested problem-solving strategies), Suzie K discovers her true talents and that a square peg can triumph in a round hole. And that those who love us will be there to support and encourage us in the end.

Shamini Flint has a keen eye for detail and conversational styles, and a wonderful sense of humour. Her arsenal includes slapstick, deadpan and melodramatic, interspersed with proverbs, amended quotes and scientific procedure. Suzie K becomes believable through her constant dialogue, reflection and anxiety, and our ability to identify with her. She presents as a foil to the popular kids who actually need Suzie’s analytical perspectives and encouragement just as much as she needs their social acceptance.

Sally Heinrich is a talented artist who packs the pages with action, emotion, whimsy and detail. Her pictures are worth a thousand words, drawing us in with her exceptionally drawn facial expressions and access to Suzie K’s imaginings.

Show Stopper is a fun read with a serious heart. It will be especially enjoyed by mid- to high- primary school age readers. It is a reminder that we are all unique individuals and that it is not only adults who may face complex personal issues. Suzie K’s problem-solving strategies are accessible, doable and realistic, and success is not measured in absolutes, but in resilience.

I very much enjoyed the philosophical and literary asides of George, the school goldfish and confidante of our heroine. It was fitting that George had the last word, “In the jungle no one can hear you scream…”. A neat lead-in to Happy Camper! File #4.

THE SUZIE K DIARIES – SHOW STOPPER! FILE #3

(2019)

By Shamini Flint

Illustrations by Sally Heinrich

Allen & Unwin

ISBN 978 1 76052 370 1

112pp

$9.99

 

THE SUZIE K DIARIES

HAPPY CAMPER! FILE #4

export as happy camper

Reviewed by Angela Marie

 

“And now I have to SURVIVE in the WILD!!!

George and Jack are right.

There is ZERO chance I will survive in the WILD.

I need to find a way of fixing this problem…

And that, my friends, is exactly what I am going to do!”

Angela Marie: Harper, were you looking forward to reading another Suzie K book?

Harper: Yes, I really was.

AM: What did you enjoy about it?

H: I can tell you funny bits. It’s really funny when Suzie K packed all that stuff for her camping trip because she’s only supposed to bring one small backpack and she brings everything. They were really thirsty so Suzie K finds a water tree, and Clementine thinks there’s fruit trees like waffle trees.

AM: What did you think of the writing?

H: I really like how it’s not an actual story. It’s a lot of speech bubbles. I really like it that way. It’s only a story at the start.

AM: And the illustrations?

H: The thing about the pictures; the pictures are not really detailed but I really like them because it’s easier to understand. I like how much the words are usually in speech bubbles and it’s easier to understand which characters are speaking.

AM: What was Happy Camper about?

H: Her parents wanted Suzie K to go on the school camping trip and Suzie K is like really nervous about going there and she doesn’t want to go.

AM: So what happens?

H: The problem is she gets there, and her and Clementine get lost in the forest and so Suzie K builds a hut, gets water in a container, gets a container and gets fireflies for a night light.

AM: What about the ending?

H: So they find their class and they both become the queens of the jungle.

AM: Who would you recommend this book to?

H: I recommend it to persons who really liked the other Suzie K books (Life of the Party! and Game Changer!).

Happy Camper! sees Shamini Flint and Sally Heinrich retain the genre and elements of the previous Suzie K Diaries. Revisiting characters and being able to make predictions about those characters, and understanding the format and style of stories within a series, is reassuring to the young reader, and ensures greater success and enjoyment. Along with Suzie K, we reconnect with her ever-hopeful mother, her fairly-typical brother, Life of the Party!’s party girl, Clementine, and George, the existential goldfish.

Once again, Suzie K’s mother has demanding and unwelcome plans for her. She is determined that Suzie WILL go on the school camping trip and WILL be crowned Queen of the Jungle, a bookend to brother Jack’s King of the Jungle title.

Did her mother foresee that Suzie would get lost and would have to problem-solve her way, relying almost entirely on natural resources and her amazing mind?

Happy Camper! is a rollercoaster ride of self-doubt, fear, panic, appreciation of nature, problem-solving and celebration, supported by ingenuity and knowledge. Resilience, determination and teamwork hold the keys to success. Once again, author Shamini Flint and illustrator Sally Heinrich have worked their magic. It is a great read, and brimming with the dialogue, retort, emotion and humour that remains a trademark of The Suzie K Diaries. And along the way the bonus of incidental learning.

PS The clever adaptations of well-known movie lines work their charms. Consider this from George, “I’m also just a fish, standing in front of a girl, asking her not to eat me.” Which movie? Clue: A neighbourhood of London.

Shamini Flint is the author of many books including the popular Diary of a Soccer Star series and the adult crime fiction series, Inspector Singh Investigates. Shamini transitioned from her corporate career in international law to becoming a writer, a lecturer and an advocate for the environment. She is committed to promoting fair trade and the work of the WWF. She writes from a wondrous sense of humour and observation and from an infectious passion. She lives in Singapore with her husband and children.

Adelaide-based Sally Heinrich is the talented illustrator of more than forty books, and receives international and national art commissions. Her diverse commissions range from wine labels to murals, including the Singapore Zoo as a client. She also writes and illustrates her own picture books, novels and non-fiction works. Her picture storybooks, One Step at a Time and Papa Sky, have won awards. Sally reveals an ability to skilfully adapt art style to genre. She shares that she lacks talent in the singing department and sometimes gets lost in the bush.

THE SUZIE K DIARIES – HAPPY CAMPER! FILE #4

(2019)

By Shamini Flint

Illustrations by Sally Heinrich

Allen & Unwin

ISBN 978 1 76052 828 7

112pp

$9.99

 

 

 

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