Bab Sharkey and the Animal Mummies: The Weird Beard (Andrew Hansen & Jessica Roberts, Walker Books)
Parents will likely be familiar with The Chaser’s Andrew Hansen, but this wacky new series is a departure from his satirical brand of humour. The book opens with the Unpharaoh: she’s about to depart this life for the Afterworld but hatches an evil plan to bring herself back via her mummified and reanimated servant jackal. Sensitive readers might not be able to handle the gross-out descriptions of the mummification process in this opening, which involves a brain-sucking vacuum, but things lighten up when the book jumps forward 4000 years to Bab, a young genius who lives in Egypt with his ‘Broken Pot Digger-Upper’ mum. Bab meets some kindly mummy animals and acquires the magical artefact, the Pharoah’s Beard. But when the Unpharoah returns, Bab must find a way to defeat her with the help of his new friends. Husband-and-wife duo Hansen and Jessica Roberts have created a wacky, if slightly convoluted, story with characters that are entertaining and cute (in a disgusting way). Like many comedian-turned-writers before him, Hansen has a good understanding of pacing that will draw in middle-primary readers, especially with the aid of Roberts’ amusing illustrations. There are titbits of ancient history scattered along the way, but the focus is on the weird fun and adventure. Young fart-joke fans will love it.
Hannah Cartmel is an editor and co-founder of the Rag & Bone Man Press Inc.