BOOK REVIEW: Mr Tripp Smells a Rat (Sandy McKay, illus by Ruth Paul, Walker Books)

Mr Tripp—go to the top of the class! Mr Tripp Smells a Rat is the first in a new series of stories from author Sandy McKay. Part of the ‘Walker Stories’ series (the New Zealand equivalent to ‘Aussie Nibbles’), it makes a fantastic first reader—great for beginner readers to read aloud. The book comprises three short, inter-connected stories. Lily is the spokesperson for Room Five and narrates the action in a friendly and casual way. There is a repetitive structure to each story and each one contains a little moral lesson (it’s okay to be scared, the benefits of healthy eating, having nits isn’t something to be embarrassed about), which is dealt with in such a comic way that it’s never heavy-handed or didactic. Mr Tripp, who believes that everybody is good at something (even Lily, who can hold her breath for ages), has a great sense of fun and learning, with a love of puns and jokes. Young readers will definitely develop their interest in wordplay thanks to Mr Tripp: ‘What has hands but can’t clap? A clock.’ A second Mr Tripp volume is due later in 2011.

Kate O’Donnell is a bookseller at the Younger Sun bookshop in Yarraville. This review first appeared in the Summer 2010/11 issue of Bookseller+Publisher magazine.