Title: Zoo Crew #1
Author: Guy Edmonds and Matt Zeremes, illustrated by Peter William Popple
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st September 2021
Synopsis: Age 6 +. A zany, ALL-NEW junior fiction comedy series from Emmy Kids Award-winning TV writers Matt Zeremes and Guy Edmonds. Hilarious stories about a motley crew of loveable heroes (and dastardly villains!) at Bazooglyville Primary. Meet Eddie: a forgetful, humongous and big-hearted elephant; Mabel the incredibly feisty mouse; and Princeton the Pig, who’s a complete neat freak and totes a worry wart. Jam packed with dynamic and funny illustrations. Themes of friendship, adversity, positivity, and the highs and lows of school life.
It’s the athletics carnival and Eddie, Mabel and Princeton have to run, throw and jump their guts out so that mean, cheating bully Echo doesn’t win the day – again! Can this super cool crew hold in their panic-farts and kick serious butt to outsmart Echo and her sidekicks? Better get your sweatbands on … It’s ready, set, go time!
Eddie, Mabel, and Princeton are getting ready for the athletics carnival, and are determined to win the all-you-can eat supply of ice-cream, but to do so, they need to beat Echo the Eagle and her meerkat cronies Mumu and Mario – and Echo will do whatever she can to win, even if it means cheating! But will teamwork or cheating win out in this new, fun and whimsical new story?
Every kid has been through the school athletics carnival, and not everyone is good at it or loves it, but everyone – or as many as possible – will do their best to participate and support their friends and their house team – often with lots of joy and mascots as they watch their friends and house teammates take part. Yet there will always be those kids who don’t have the same spirit of support and teamwork, and mateship that others do – and that is the conflict that Eddie and his friends face – how to deal with cheating from Echo and her cronies.
Many books these days look at the underdog kids, those who fly under the radar or those who are not part of the ‘it’ group – the ones that everyone loves. These characters fall somewhere in between – they have friends and enemies, and complexities, flaws, and strengths, and don’t always succeed at everything – showing children and readers of all ages that it is okay to have moments where things don’t always go right. It is okay not to be perfect like Echo, because that can mean that everyone gets a fair go.
This highly illustrated novel is perfect for early readers, newly confident readers, reluctant readers – and all readers who want a fun story that is entertaining and celebrates friendship, teamwork, and a sense of belonging at school. It allows kids to see that it is okay if they’re not perfect or strong, that it is oaky to be good at some things. What matters is the effort you put in, and the way you work with others on your team to achieve the goals you are aiming for.
Books with this message that are also fun are great because they’re not didactic, and not ‘issue’ or ‘message’ books – sometimes the best way to get a message or lesson across is to let it evolve naturally across a story, and to show kids and readers in general what they can do about the world around them and how they can react to or deal with things that come their way.