Just Tricking by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton, paperback, 137 pages, first published by Reed Books Australia in 1997, this edition published by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd in 1999 (printed in 2004).
A collection of ten short stories by the wildly popular pair, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, this book is aimed at making kids laugh. It is no literary masterpiece, but boy did it make my second grader cry with mirth! And she has read it and re-read it, with no less enjoyment each time. We have had parts of this book related to us, through giggles and guffaws, so finally I decided I needed to read this book for myself.
The book is set out like an easy novel, with each chapter containing a separate story about mischief and jokester behaviour. Some of the stories were funny, but a few were just gross, like the slug milkshake. Just Tricking is great for kids who want some comedy in their reading adventures, and especially for those with a penchant for practical jokes. The short story format is good for kids just starting to read novels too. They can have the satisfaction of reading a complete story without it being too overwhelming, while working their way through a novel length book.
On every page, surrounding the text, were numerous pencil drawings, diagrams, advice and short anecdotes. I found these to be quite a distraction, and somewhat annoying, rather than funny, as I assume they were meant to be. My second grader said she mostly ignored the illustrations, just looking at them separate to reading the story. If I had left them to the end of each story, I too would have found them less irritating, though still not all that amusing. I think the book would have been more enjoyable with less illustrations and less additional text in the margins.
There were also a couple of times that I thought the content was a tad inappropriate for my seven year old, but these moments passed over her head with little thought put towards them. There were also a few references to things, such as to the game Mortal Kombat, that she didn’t understand, but these did not diminish her experience of this book. My husband says I’m just being prudish! Perhaps he’s right, but I still think this book would be better for slightly older kids, in middle to upper primary school. My daughter has borrowed some of the other books in this series to read, such as Just Shocking and Just Disgusting, enjoying them with equal enthusiasm. These don’t appeal to me much as an adult, but would I like them if I were a child in primary school? Yes, probably, just as much as my daughter has enjoyed them. She loves Just Tricking, and I can see that it will be read many more times, because this book is perfect for reading for fun.