Review Blog

Feb 03 2017

AniMalcolm by David Baddiel

cover image

Ill. by Jim Field. HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9780008185152
(Age: 8-10) Recommended. For Malcolm's eleventh birthday, he has written out the specifications for a brand new Apache 321 computer and left the list displayed on the kitchen wall. After the usual birthday song, Malcolm's happiness turns to disbelief when his present is a little white chinchilla in a cage. Malcolm stands out in a house full of pets; he really dislikes animals, after a nasty incident at the zoo when Louie the chimp threw poo at him.
The one surprise for his birthday is Mum and Day paying for his Year 6 camp to Orwell Farm - a nightmare setting for Malcolm - one filled with animals! When Malcolm stares deep into the eyes of KPax the old goat with the hypnotic eyes, his life suddenly changes. The boy magically morphs into the body of a tortoise. Over Malcolm's three-day school trip, he embodies a range of animals, experiencing their lifestyles, their abilities as he develops these understandings he also has a change in attitude.
Each change is filled with highs and lows, with funny incidents and some interesting food options. There's manky lettuce for Malcolm the blue-eyed baby tortoise, a cat fight with Zsa-Zsa the farm cat and a fun conversation about cats drinking toilet water. Malcolm is cleverly able to communicate cross-species and all the farm animals assist him on his journey back to being a human. When Malcolm now a tiny piglet asks his animal friends to travel into the city and find his family, their long journey begins. He rides Snowflake the pony and two bigger pigs, three sheep, a cat and a dog accompany him to City Zoo. His family love the zoo and visit every Sunday. Of course, there's plenty of fun as Malcolm morphs into a chimp and encounters Louie the dominant male for another poo throwing encounter.
Jim Field's cartoons add humour and life to fun Baddiel's story of growth, change and acceptance.
This is a great story for sharing with a Middle Primary class and for readers who enjoy animal stories with a twist.
Rhyllis Bignell

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