The Janksters and the Pesky Parrot is the third book by authors Cid and Mo about Billy and Sam and the amazing, magical jokes they play. The book will be published on 1st March. I was lucky enough to have been given a review copy by Cid and Mo in exchange for my honest opinion.
Actually, if I’m really being honest, they sent it to my son Oscar, who is their number one fan, and who is thrilled to be the owner of a book nobody else has yet. I did manage to get him to release it to me for the purposes of reviewing it, but I am on a strict one day loan, so I really need to get it back to him ASAP.
Cid and Mo are authors who used to be teachers. They loved reading with the children they taught, and finding ways to make reading more appealing, particularly to reluctant readers, and particularly to reluctant readers who are boys. They are now full time authors who commit their time to working in communities to support reading for pleasure in all the ways they can, including treating us to new Jankster adventures.
I first met Cid and Mo when they launched their book: The Janksters and the Talking Slug. Our paths crossed because of our passion for and interest in encouraging reluctant readers. They sent me a copy of their book, which my son, Oscar absolutely adored. He took it into school with him and couldn’t stop talking about it.
Cid and Mo kindly agreed to come to the school I worked in and share their work and experiences with the children. Their visit was a huge success. Their brilliant rapport with the children coupled with their vast experience of knowing what teachers want and need made them ideal visitors.
Since then, they have sent me their second book: The Janksters and The Ants in Pants, and now the Pesky Parrot.
Their work has developed hugely in the years since I first met them, and you can find up to date information about what they do on their website, here.
There are lots of elements that make the Janksters series work. They are ideal chapter/transitional books. They have a carefully chosen vocabulary which is manageable for struggling readers, but which also includes words that will stretch children who need a bit more of a challenge. The chapters or ‘chunks’ as Cid and Mo call them to make them less of an anxiety trigger, are short and easy for children to tackle. The font is nice and clear for readers who might have dyslexia type issues, and as well as being a good size, there is decent spacing between lines and a good amount of uncluttered space on each page. The books are printed on cream/off white paper to help children with reading difficulties, and there are illustrations to break up the text and make it more friendly.
The other thing that really makes the Janksters work is that Cid and Mo know exactly what makes children laugh. There are lots of fart jokes. There are lots of pranks. There are lots of fantastically silly episodes that will have children laughing out loud.
The Janksters and the Pesky Parrot has all of these elements in spades, along with a new size format which I prefer to the previous books, and which makes them look slightly more grown up, and therefore more appealing to children who might not be comfortable with anyone thinking their book choice is babyish.
In this story, Billy and Sam have a wonderful experience with a magical whoopee cushion from Uncle Tallis’ shop, alongside the main story in which they help their friend Aseem get one over on school bully Dexter Slin. Uncle Tallis’ jokeshop, which is my favourite part of the stories, features heavily in this book, much to my delight.
There is much here to please children, and those who read with them. This would make an excellent story to share in class, as it is short enough to share over a term. It would be particularly good for boys aged 7-12, although girls will enjoy it just as much. It is a wonderful book for building a child’s confidence and helping them to understand that they can read, and be entertained, and read to others and be entertaining.