Surf's Up (Mammoth Academy) by Neal Layton

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Surf's Up (Mammoth Academy) by Neal Layton

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A light and jolly early reader with vivid and energetic illustrations. There's plenty of adventure and enough quirkiness and humour to maintain good interest.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: September 2009
Publisher: Hodder
ISBN: 034098967X

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Having successfully seen off the rather unpleasant humans in earlier volumes, our favourite junior mammoths Oscar and Arabella have nothing much else to do apart from return to Mammoth Academy for lots more double periods of Difficult Sums. They're supposed to be making presentations about what they did during the holidays too, but Oscar hasn't done any preparation and, frankly, he can't really remember what he actually did do with all that free time other than no Difficult Sums.

The Academy has some new students this year - the diminutive Simon and Simone who are pygmy mammoths and somewhat prone to defining all good things as radical. This hippyish lingo comes from them being island mammoths, used to sea and sand and a laid-back beach atmosphere. They're expert surfers, which is declared to be particularly radical. And the idea of surfing impresses Oscar no end...

... which is lucky, because this story's adventure calls for some exceedingly radical surfing skillz. The humans may have scarpered from Mammoth Academy lands, but they have to go somewhere. And, ominously, humans have boats and will paddle. And they quite like the look of a particular island.

Ah, you can't help but love errant but good-hearted mammoth children, can you? Particularly when they're drawn vividly and energetically on the page before you. Neal Layton's Quentin Blake-esque mammoths are cheeky, dopey and lovable by broad stroke, and good-hearted and heroic by word and text. They're droll too and this early reader is as suitable for reading aloud to the less confident as it is for reading alone by the keen learner. I loved Simon and Simone, the dudish new additions to Mammoth Academy. They reminded me of the current surfing turtle in Finding Nemo.

Oscar, of course, comes through for them, and the humans, of course, get their much-deserved comeuppance. Early readers are difficult to rate, but this one gets a definite thumbs up from Bookbag.

My thanks to the nice people at Hodder for sending the book.

If they enjoyed Surf's Up, they might also have fun reading about Sue Mongredien's Prince Jake. It Moved! by Anne Fine is also sterling fun for early readers, as is Aliens In Underpants Save The World by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort. We also liked Boobela and Worm Ride the Waves by Joe Friedman.

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Buy Surf's Up (Mammoth Academy) by Neal Layton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Surf's Up (Mammoth Academy) by Neal Layton at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Surf's Up (Mammoth Academy) by Neal Layton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Surf's Up (Mammoth Academy) by Neal Layton at


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