Author interview | Early review | Excerpt | Reading copy giveaway
When Mr Bambuckle arrives, laughs, thrills, silliness and imagination are guaranteed to follow!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Roald Dahl in this hilarious new series from Tim Harris, an exciting new voice in children’s fiction. Laugh out loud with Mr Bambuckle, the mysterious and always entertaining teacher in classroom 12B. Will Blue Valley school ever be the same again?
‘Stop right there. Imagination? Silliness? I cannot believe that Penguin Random House are publishing such UTTER NONSENSE. Children should be reciting their times tables, not reading about washing machines that try to eat you, or parents who embarrass their children with kilt dances. Where does Tim Harris get these OUTLANDISH ideas?!? You shouldn’t believe a word he says! And children most certainly should NOT be reading about Mr Bambuckle. That teacher is a disaster waiting to happen. I will get rid of him if it’s the last thing I do!’ Principal Sternblast
Sorry, Principal Sternblast. Penguin Random House will be publishing Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables in September whether you like it or not.
Tell us about yourself, Tim.
I was a primary school teacher for 15 years, and it gave me immeasurable joy. Over that time, I met some incredibly fascinating students, each one bringing their own uniqueness to the classroom.
As a teacher, I tried hard to find common ground with each of my students. This involved learning about their favourite music, the sports they played, the books they read, the shows they watched, their hobbies and interests. Every student was shaped differently. And every student had their own unique story.
How did that inspire your new series, Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables?
When discussing ideas for creating a new series with my publisher, Zoe Walton, we decided it might be fun to set the series in a school. I had lots of short stories up my sleeve, but we needed an overarching idea that brought them all together.
We decided the central figure would be a mysterious (and maybe even magical) new teacher, Mr Bambuckle, and that the stories could be set in the classroom, but also give a voice to the individual students from room 12B.
This decision gave me a huge burst of inspiration in terms of writing with a little more poignancy. The opportunity was there to write about meaningful relationships.
Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables is a quirky exploration of the dynamics found inside a classroom. I wanted to inspire and remind teachers that each of their students is a living story that is waiting to be heard. I wanted to inspire children that being an individual is okay. We’re all different, and that’s what makes us special.
But the stories are funny, too, right?
Absolutely! What kids loved about my first series, ‘Exploding Endings’, was the humour that underpinned the stories, and I have tried to make my new series even funnier.
The ideas for the individual stories are often loosely based on thoughts and experiences I’ve had, both as a child and an adult—but then I amp up the volume for maximum silliness.
- I was scared of the canteen lady at high school. She would growl and bark at the students, earning her a fearsome reputation. ‘Conversations with Canteen Carol’ is my tribute to terrifying canteen ladies.
- Most children can relate to embarrassing parents. I remember being embarrassed by my dad’s singing at community gatherings. Thankfully, he didn’t perform any kilt dances! ‘Parental Rental’ takes this idea to the extreme.
- As a boy, I was always suspicious of my teachers lowering their voices whenever students were around. This was a fun idea to explore through the eyes of Ren Rivera in ‘Spycrophone’.
Why did you break up the stories with dialogue and lists?
Stories don’t have to be told traditionally, and I like to experiment with different formats—like Damon Dunst’s cringeworthy do’s and don’ts in ‘How to Take a Girl on a Date’!
I often warm up before writing by creating abstract lists. It forces my brain to think outside the box for creative possibilities. This was the idea behind ‘Fifteen Ridiculous Uses for a Bicycle’.
I also want to inspire creativity in readers, so we get to hear the students’ ideas for apps in the first book. Apps can have very practical and specific purposes. I love wondering what young minds might create if they were in charge of the app store!
The students of 12B aren’t quite sure what to make of their new teacher, Mr Bambuckle: he rides a unicycle, his cousin is an Icelandic rock star, and he keeps soup in his pockets. But the thing that really sets Mr Bambuckle apart from all the other teachers is that his lessons are actually interesting. Thanks to the unusual tutelage of their new teacher, class 12B begins to realise their true potential and ability to do great things, whether it’s conquering their fears of killer washing machines or performing a traditional Scottish dance. But not everybody is happy with this development, including killjoy Principal Sternblast, who’s determined to put a stop to the fun and replace Mr Bambuckle. This is a delightfully funny book full of weird and wonderful characters that kids will love. Lessons about app-making and drone-building help put a modern spin on the ‘Magic School Bus’-esque formula, and the off-the-wall humour is bound to appeal to readers aged eight to 11. The format (short stories within a frame narrative) and vibrant illustrations from James Hart make Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables a great new suggestion for reluctant readers.
Holly Harper is a bookseller at Readings Kids. This review was first published in Books+Publishing.
Read an excerpt from Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables here.
Reading copy giveaway
For your chance to receive one of 20 advance reading copies of Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line MR BAMBUCKLE’S REMARKABLES.