Squidge Dibley Destroys Everything by Mick Elliott

Reviewed by Rod McLary

Squidge Dibley is quite a lad – not satisfied with previously destroying the school, the galaxy and history, in this latest Squidge Dibley book, he will destroy everything!  He is perhaps a twenty-first century successor to lovable larrikin characters such as Ginger Meggs or Smiley.

Squidge is the creation of Australian author Mick Elliott who has written a series of books about Squidge and his fellow classmates in 6PU at Craglands South Primary School located somewhere in Australia.  The story is narrated by Squidge’s best friend Padman O’Donnell who also illustrated the book.  Padman is a ‘cartoonist in training’ and Squidge is ‘a genius inventor’ with ‘special stretchy medical conditions’ which are explained later in the book and which come in very handy as Padman, Squidge and the rest of the class face down their arch-nemesis Hector Hoovesley.  Hector plans to take over first the school and then – everything!

At the beginning of the book, there is a very helpful sketch of each of the key players along with a thumbnail character assessment – as in ‘Leanna Kingsley – total space nut [can name every star in the Milky Way]’ [4-5].  It is interesting to note that there is in 6PU a mix of boys and girls, ethnic origins and interests; and each of the students has a part to play in the ensuing adventures.  There is also an implicit acknowledgement between the students of each other’s vulnerabilities as when, in one incident, one boy finds it all a little too much: ‘I want my teddy,’ said Shane Sloosman, his teeth chattering.  We all felt the same way.’ [118]

Written in a very down-to-earth style [but without swearing] which will appeal particularly to boys aged from seven to twelve, the book is liberally sprinkled with illustrations and different fonts are used to give special emphasis to particular words.  At the beginning and the end of the book, there are brief comic-book style illustrations.  All this will engage even the most reluctant reader – it is very visually appealing to the target audience even though the book is illustrated in only black and white.  To add further to the book’s appeal to a certain age of readers, there are plentiful ‘poo’ references such as the following:

‘Hey!’ said Daniel Kwon-Yoon, pointing into the flowing brown stream of nuggets.  ‘I see one of mine!  Pretty sure I popped that one out last weekend.’ [134]

All in all, the book is a lot of fun and works its way fairly quickly to a satisfactory denouement.  The author has created a group of likeable and engaging children who may give Mr Hoovesley a terrible time but who no doubt go home happily at the end of the school day to their families and teddies.

Mick Elliott is an author, illustrator, scriptwriter and animator.  His work has won more than twenty international awards.  In 2019, Mick was an Australian Reading Hour ambassador.  This book is the fourth in his series about Squidge Dibley and his 6PU classmates.

Squidge Dibley Destroys Everything

[2020]

by Mick Elliott

Hachette Australia

ISBN 978 0 7344 1946 0

174pp; $14.99

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