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The Unforgettable What’s His Name

When Paul Jennings and Craig Smith combine to write a children’s book, you know there will be a great deal of laughter and unusual problems to be solved. Many bizarre incidents are present and will all become quite acceptable after the initial shock (for adults that is.)  Craig’s illustrations certainly add to the humour of the story, and deepen the understanding.


This book is no different, and oddly enough, it isn’t until the last page that we discover “What’s his names,” real name. But to begin; we have a boy with problems. Shyness, fear of spiders, longing to find his dad, and the ability to blend into backgrounds and be unseen, are just a few of the issues facing our main character. Due to an unfortunate accident, he is being chased by a gang of very tough looking bikies.  He hides out in the zoo, where he and his Mum have roamed on many occasions but due to another unforeseen accident, a cage full of monkeys is released and escape from the zoo.

 It is here that our hero decides to try to control his ability to take on other appearances, and successfully escapes from the zoo. But he is sad, and although Mum has invited a “friend”, Gertag around to try and cheer him up, she just steals his burp bombs, and continues to forget his name. One of the Bikie gang asks our lad if he will get his Mum to ring him, and produces a phone number. Mum is less than pleased, and storms off to nip this friendship in the bud.

 Meanwhile, the papers are showing the missing monkeys, and our boy realizes that they cannot survive happily on eucalyptus leaves, so he begins to track them down. By following monkey poo along a railway line, he finds them all hiding in a disused shed. He enters, and just as he is about to persuade them to come back, when a large spider jumps on his arm. Our hero is so terrified that he begins to change, but of all things, into the spider. When he finds and chomps on a dead blowfly, we know the transition is complete.

 The text in this book is a large size and each page is broken up with an illustration. There are some double page coloured illustrations as well. The book is suitable for emerging readers and children always feel a sense of great satisfaction to finish what looks like a large novel. With monkey pee, cow poo, and dead blowflies, Paul Jennings has tapped into that delightful, yukky place, in most children.

AuthorPaul Jennings, illustrated by Craig Smith
PublisherAllen & Unwin
DistributorAllen & Unwin
ReleasedNovember 2016