Eric Vale, Epic Fail (Michael Gerard Bauer, illus by Joe Bauer, Scholastic)
Eric Vale has a terrible nickname: Epic Fail. And he can’t seem to shake it. Every little thing Eric does wrong—from misspelling a word on a spelling test to demolishing a birthday cake with a soccer ball—is met with the chorus: ‘Eric Vale, Epic Fail!’ How can he lose his nickname? By plotting an Epic Win! Meanwhile, there’s one person at school having a worse time than Eric: the new girl, Aasha Alsufi, from Somalia. No matter how hard everyone tries to cheer her up, she just hides in the corner with a terrified look on her face. This book for the 8-12 age group from popular children’s author Michael Gerard Bauer is a delight. Joe Bauer’s illustrations, which accompany the text on every page, are expressive and funny, often playing with the language through puns. Some of the words are also highlighted in bold for extra visual emphasis, making this book a good choice for reluctant readers. It’s also genuinely very funny, with characters who leap off the page and a storyline that never lets up the pace—or the gags.
Hannah Francis is a bookseller at the Younger Sun Bookshop in Yarraville