Book 1 in the fantastic four-book series about taking risks and flying high. A unique collaboration from children's book legend Paul Jennings and brilliant cartoonist Andrew Weldon.
Paul Jennings has written over one hundred stories and won every Australian children's choice book award. Since the publication of Unreal! in 1985, readers around the world have loved his books. The top-rating TV series Round the Twist and Driven Crazy were based on his popular short-story collections such as Unseen! In 1995 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to children's literature and he was awarded the prestigious Dromkeen Medal in 2001.
Andrew Weldon's cartoons have been published in Australia and internationally, including in The Age, The New Yorker and The Big Issue. He has published two cartoon collections - I'm so sorry little man I thought you were a hand-puppet and If you weren't a hedgehog. If I weren't a haemophiliac. His most recent book is Lazy Daisy, Busy Lizzie, created with his partner, Mary Ellen Jordan.
Ricky is an ordinary boy, who dreams of being famous and he has a secret that might just help him realise this dream. Ricky can fly yes he can fly but it has limitations and it becomes apparent it is a family trait. This is the first of a four book series by Paul Jennings, what could we say but a brilliant writer who knows how to engage children especially boys, the intended audience is 7-11 year olds.
I was captivated from the start, I loved the concept of the story and as it progresses you find out that Ricky has inherited his talent from his Dad which explains a one of his father’s stories at the start. Poor Ricky is by his own terms “weird” but he is happy with who he is and being different is ok by him. He has a great imagination which the other kids and even his teacher seem not to be able to appreciate. This is a very light hearted story with of course some toilet humour which engages boys so well, the illustrations are wonderful created by cartoonist Andrew Weldon who has appeared in The Age, The New Yorker and The Big Issue and internationally as well. Some great issues to discuss in a classroom including that we are all different and this is what makes the world such a great place to live in.
Felecia Phillips, Tasmanian eSchool
Ricky is your average boy with a dream. He wants to be famous. He could be famous if only his flying ability was consistent. With Paul Jennings as the author you know that the story isn't going to be predicable. While the reader gets two stories in this book with four books in the series it is not like Paul Jennings' other books in that this is pocket size which you can hold in your hand, shove in your pocket, carry it with you easily. The two stories each have short chapters making the book accessible to all students. The simple, black and white illustrations are detailed giving the reader more of the story as only illustrations can. Some illustrations have almost a graphic novel element to them with several panels telling the story. The expressions on the characters face also help the reader to infer more of the story than is told. The story is going to capture readers aged 8-12 as they will be able to identify with Ricky - his hopes, his dreams and the problems that arise when you try and help your family. They will love sharing the funny bits with their friends and if read aloud to the class it is guaranteed that the whole class will be in fits of laughter. Lots of fun!
Roxanne Steenbergen, Windermere Primary School, TAS
I was excited to read a new Paul Jennings book and this book didn’t disappoint. This book is hilarious and the illustrations by Andrew Weldon very witty and a perfect accompaniment to Paul Jennings text. This book had two stories, both based on the adventures of an ordinary boy, Ricky. But Ricky can do something that no other human can – he can fly! The first story, 'Falling For It', sets up the recurring events of Ricky being able to fly. This is the story of when Ricky first discovers that he can fly but only after numerous embarrassing attempts of trying first before actually being able to. The only drawback is that he cannot show his special ‘prowess’ to anyone because if he does, his flying powers fail, which doesn’t help his life ambitions to be famous.
Now the reader knows Ricky can fly, the second story 'The Kangapoo Key' tells the adventures of Ricky now that he can fly. But it is in this story he discovers a huge secret of why he able to fly.
The stories are humorously presented with a mixture of text and illustrations both telling the story and go so well together. This is an excellent book to recommend for introducing reading is fun for those reluctant readers and for EAL students. It is an easy quick read that will have readers laughing. I loved reading this book and read it on a day that wasn’t going well, it made me smile. I can’t wait to read book two and further adventures of Ricky, “The Flying Boy”!
Alison Hay, Teacher-Librarian, Yarra Hills Secondary College, VIC
The book Don’t Look Now by Paul Jennings and illustrated by Andrew Weldon is about a young boy named Ricky, who is definitely an individual. His decides he wants to fly and eventually does, albeit with a few problems associated with his super skill. Andrew Weldon’s illustrations are added to the story as part of the text. His sequences of pictures actually tell part of the story through visual literacy. The reader then makes their own meaning of the storyline and often a child’s own interpretation and understanding would be a lot funnier to them than written words. These pictures also add animation to the story, which is as unusual as it is effective. As all educators know, a lot can be said and understood by children through drawings. The first story 'Falling For It' could be used as an “it’s OK to be different” and “learn to believe in yourself” teaching tool in the classroom, while the second story ‘The Kangapoo Key Ring' could definitely be used to demonstrate the ecological principle of the symbiotic relationship between animals and plants, and the mutual benefits of food and seed dispersal.
But overall, the stories are just plain funny, and Paul Jennings’ childlike concepts and sense of humour would appeal to many young kids, especially boys. The book is small but thick, with the text broken up between the picture pages and dispersed unevenly throughout (some pages contain only 3 words). This encourages young readers who normally steer away from pages of seemingly never-ending writing. I could definitely see a young reader becoming hooked on the series.
Kavita Davies, early-childhood educator, Ainslie School, ACT
The first book in this series immediately grabs attention with its bright cover and format. This collaboration between author Paul Jennings and illustrator Andrew Weldon is certain to capture the interest of primary age readers. Don’t Look Now Book 1 contains two short stories – both of which are perfectly complimented by Weldon’s illustrations. The first story 'Falling For It', introduces the reader to Ricky, who discovers he can fly. Ricky finds that flying has its problems and this particular skill does not guarantee fame and fortune. The second story, 'The Kangapoo Key Ring' tells the story of an unusual heirloom belonging to Ricky’s family. Ricky’s adventures with the Kangapoo key ring are hilarious and lead to the discovery of a long lost piece of family memorabilia.
Ricky’s family and his relationship with them will make adult readers smile and young readers will enjoy Ricky’s attempts to “help” his family. The text of the stories is supported by Weldon’s illustrations and his depiction of humorous developments in the plot adds to the fun. The format of Don’t Look Now Book 1 encourages and supports developing and reluctant readers. Teachers would find these books a useful starting point with students for exploring other possibilities and adventures for Ricky as he develops his flying skills. Students would also enjoy practicing cartoon illustrations of some of their suggestions for Ricky’s future adventures. These books will be widely enjoyed, shared and discussed by students.
Lyn Pritchard, Hunter Valley Grammar School, NSW
This book will have readers laughing out loud at Ricky and his hilarious adventures. Some will identify with his low self-esteem and his burning desire to be famous. Ricky is an ordinary boy, and has a burning ambition to fly and thinks willpower alone should work. But positive thinking, extreme concentration and risk-taking only land him in hospital. UNTIL one day it actually works and he finds himself flying down a hole to rescue a dog. But there's a hitch. He can only fly when absolutely nobody is looking. If a person, an animal or a bird sees him while he's flying, he will drop out of the sky and sustain fatal injuries. The irony is: how can he be famous for his extraordinary ability to fly if he can only do it when nobody is looking? The second story involves his concern for his family’s lack of finance. His grandfather has died and has left only a kangaroo poo key ring but the one thing that may have eased their financial woes was the rare black poppy that only Grandad could grow. When an owl steals the key ring, Rick has no choice but to fly naked covered in cow dung to retrieve it. A set of crazy consequences sees fortunes restored. Andrew Weldon’s cartoon-style pictures feature throughout the book, making this an ideal book for seven to ten year-old children.
Nova Gibson, Massey Primary School, NZ
This book is full of drama as there is a proviso on Ricky's talent. He doesn't fit in with anyone and is a loner, both at school and at home. He wants to be famous so that everyone will notice him and not think he's a loser. His special gift won't work if people can see him. And animals and birds. If they do, there are disastrous consequences. Like a visit to the hospital. Young readers aged 10 – 12 will be kept on the edge of their seats to see if he will fail. At least he can confide in his Dad. The end result of wanting to help his Mum is a gift of a special plant from her father. Before he died his plant was eaten but if he had survived, his Mum could get a new microwave amongst many things. Ricky saved the day by accident and all lived happily ever after. A fantasy story to be read to the class who could add how they would cope with a gift which they couldn't share.
Michael P Mardel
Don’t Look Now 1 is about a boy named Ricky how has a fantastic imaginative, is very adventurous and always brave. More than anything in the world, he wants to be famous and he wants to help his mum. This book contains two short stories and is the first in a series of four. ‘Falling For It’ is the story of willpower and imagination, where Ricky is determined to fly. He also learns he is not the only one in his family who can fly, but there’s a catch... The second story is called ‘The Kangapoo Key Ring’ and tells the story of Ricky, now capable of flying at will (just as long as no one sees him, or he will instantly fall from the sky!) who goes on a mission to find what his mum’s special Kangapoo key opens. Accidently losing the key ring in the mud, Ricky must now find a clever way to replace the key ring with something that looks like a dried kangaroo poo. But first he must chase an owl through the night to retrieve the stolen key! Ricky is not afraid to takes risks, even when it means flying through the air stark naked and camouflaging himself with cow manure. Andrew Weldon’s pictures take the story even further with ‘punch lines’ and jokes that are not always included in the text. The cartoon style pictures are also ideal for colouring in! This book is ideal for years 3-5. It is a fun read and importantly, it will encourage and engage children who are beginning to read independently.
Eva Matheson, Relief Teacher, WA
Ricky is not a regular boy. On the outside he seems pretty ordinary, except perhaps for his weird shorts, how red he gets and his ‘wrong’ sneakers. And the way he can imagine cool things in the clouds no one else can. But what really makes Ricky extra-special is that he can fly. Well, sometimes. In the funny first part of this book, we find out not only can Ricky fly but he has an annoying restriction on his flying ability. He can only fly when others aren’t looking. Even if a bird or a curious cat stares at him, he comes crashing to the ground. And that’s not really much fun, because isn’t one of the great things about being able to fly supposed to be how you can show off your skills to everyone and become FAMOUS?
This book comprises two stories, the first 'Falling For It' is an introduction to Ricky’s flying skills and the second is 'The Kangapoo Key Ring'. I found the first more fun and a good introduction to both Ricky’s character and the fun of flying. I enjoyed learning about how Ricky came to fly and how his family reacted. However the Kangapoo story was still a great read. Both are accompanied by simple and amusing illustrations that really complement the text and add to the book’s humour and our understanding of Ricky’s plight. Flying has always been a fascination for humans – it’s a common superpower to endow heroes with. This story takes that simple obsession and turns it into a problem for Ricky – what if you had a superpower that didn’t quite work the way you wanted it to? Ricky is an easy to relate to character, and so is his obsession. Jennings and Weldon easily combine the humour of Ricky’s situations with some very relatable emotions – for instance Ricky’s feelings of being “weird” and his drive to fix problems and be famous. This book had me smiling all the way through.
In the classroom, I’m sure this book would be popular for both boys and girls at the younger primary school age. It’s a little too limited in scope and language for older children, but the flying stories are simple and enjoyable for younger children. There are two good stories which could have kids talking about what sort of things they had always wished they could do. And how important it would be for them that others knew their superpower existed. Talking about limited powers and how they could still be used - for instance, how Ricky still tries to use his flying powers even if he can’t be famous – could be interesting too.
Once again Paul Jennings has come up with stories that engage early literacy students and hook them into reading. This book, kindly sent from Allen & Unwin, has done a few circuits round the block. It has stimulated our teacher librarian to buy the whole series, it has been a serial read to multiple classes, it has been used to stimulate reading and writing in literacy support groups, it has been recommended to the many parents who ask me what books they should be giving to their reluctant junior primary boys. This book is written entirely at the children’s interest and language level. It has amusing illustrations, which are an integral, additional part of the story and it is approachable for those with reading difficulties with its compact size and low word number on each page. I have used this book to stimulate the writing and illustrating of story: 'What would you do if you could fly?’ It has been utilised to lead into other books of the genre or author, to use visual literacy as an adjunct and stimulus to different levels of comprehension and prediction, to analyse and practice narrative story structure and as a springboard to word studies. This book, and indeed the complete series, lends itself to an inquiry unit on flight, social and friendship issues, self-esteem, family, interests and hobbies. Paul Jennings has a wonderful website which includes some great video interviews on the series with both Paul and cartoonist Andrew Weldon, very useful for children to listen to and discuss how and why authors write stories.
Jo-Anne Britt, St Aloysius Public School, NSW