Wicked Wizards and Leaping Lizards by Mark Carthew, illustrated by Mike Spoor (Random House Australia, 2006)
Reviewed by Dianne Bates
Shortlisted for the 2008 Book of the Year by the Speech Pathologists of Australia, this is a collection of children’s poems, riddles, jokes and other bits and pieces to amuse young readers. Flicking through the pages, one is attracted to the book design which makes good use of white space and lots of font in different sizes. There are numerous speech balloons and signs, all embellished with zany, funny and well-executed black and white illustrations.
For a reader aged 7 and up, there are some laugh-aloud pages, such as the one of a witch and ogre chasing animals and a goblin down a hill, with the words, ‘Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me…’ and, on the opposite page, under an enormous OOOPS! there’s the goblin landing head-first up the rear of a departing elephant.
There is lots to entertain any reader with this collection that’s crowded with illustrations and poems about a wide range of fantasy characters, including fairies, gnomes, goblins, elves, dwarfs and many more. The beginning sets up the reader to search through the pages for a variety of hidden objects as well as the answers to riddles such as ‘they love the dark/make mounds of scats/and hand from trees like acrobats!’ (Answer: Bats). Limericks abound about ‘a dashing young wizard named Dale’, ‘A chef from Bangkok,’ and ‘…a young ogre name Rose/Who had a huge wart on her nose’ and more eccentric characters.
If there are two words to describe this 112 page book, they are ‘energy’ and ‘entertainment’. No doubt the book will prove popular with young readers who will want to share its jokes, riddles and poems with friends and adults.