The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic Australia RRP:$9.99 AUD
Aaron Blabey is one of those annoyingly successful people who was a skilled stage and screen actor for many years before becoming one of Australia’s best loved writers for kids. He’s best known right now for his delightful take on sibling rivalry The Brothers Quibble, which was the featured read for Australia’s National Simultaneous Storytime event in May.
He’s also caused a splash with his less-than-charming character Pig The Pug, a bug-eyed pup with some major character flaws like greediness and telling fibs. Pig is fast gaining a cult following – and not only with kids. I recently saw the Pig books pop up on a ‘pug lovers’ forum as the go-to gift for your favourite pug-owning people!
Like many kids’ books, Blabey’s stories offer moral guidance, hidden behind quirky characters and a good dose of humour. What’s original about these, however, is that they’re quite edgy; in fact, my Mr 4 is dead scared of Pig the Pug! But he absolutely loved The Bad Guys.
This latest title from Blabey is for the ‘junior chapter book’ market; for early readers who still like lots of pictures – or for older readers who want some light relief. I read it to my tribe as a bedtime story (we finished the whole thing in one sitting) and it had my whole audience (from the 4 year old to his 40-something father) laughing out loud.
It features Mr Wolf – a classic, storybook bad guy – and his bad guy mates: Mr Shark, Mr Piranha and Mr Snake. Grown ups will recognise the Tarantino-esque names and images, whilst kids will get the fact that these are universally feared and disliked beasts.
But Mr Wolf is ready to go straight. He’s had enough of people screaming and running away from him. Sure, he’s eaten a few grandmothers, blown down a few straw houses, but mostly he’s just misunderstood. Can he convince his rat pack to join him as a force for good, not evil?
The boys set out to prove themselves, in slapstick rescue-gone-wrong scenarios with dialogue as sharp as their teeth. I’m thrilled that this book is subtitled ‘Episode 1’ because that means there’s plenty more to come from these hilarious, not-quite-reformed bandits.
Check out a sneak peek here: