Saturday 16 September 2017

Sweaty and Pals by Mac Black #Review #ChildrensBook

Anyone who likes Mac Black’s “Please call me Derek” (and the rest in the series covering his grown-up adventures) will enjoy introducing younger friends and family to his new series, “Sweaty and Pals”. Derek hated his nickname and now we find out how he came by it. Filled with stories about Derek’s exploits with his gang in the eighties, with quirky illustrations (by Mac Black), the stories build on Derek’s ability to find disasters and get himself into one mess after another.
Sweaty’s tales are about little kids enjoying life, before smartphones and computer games came along. Of course, it is just possible – if you are older than five – that you did all these things yourself…
Mac has embraced writing for younger readers with the same quirky clean humour that permeates his YA series. From Sweaty’s first day at school, we meet some of the wonderful characters who pepper the adult books, subtly dealing with issues around prejudice, being different, living with the elderly, losing parents – but in a gentle, no-nonsense way that exposes the social discrimination  and values that we took for granted, in those days, but we would not accept, today. This makes these stories a perfect springboard for class discussions about daily life for children thirty years ago compared with now

My thanks to the author, Mac Black who sent my copy for review.  Sweaty and Pals was published in paperback on 5 July 2017.

I don't read a great deal of children's fiction and rarely feature it here on Random Things, but was tempted by the description and colourful colour of Sweaty and Pals. The fact that it is set in the 1980s also appealed to me.

Mac Black has already published a series of books for young adults about Derek Toozlethwaite (what an awesome name!), and Sweaty and Pals is the prequel to the series; aimed at children aged around eight to eleven years old.

Derek's nickname in the series is Sweaty and Mac Black decided to explain to his readers how that nickname came about. In Sweaty and Pals the reader learns all about Derek and his pals; Wee Spotty, Wally, Tomtom, Jacko and Curly, and how each of them came about their nicknames.

Sweaty and Pals is a fun and interesting read. Young readers will love this as each chapter is a story in itself, and it's really easy to pick up, read a couple of chapters and then set aside until the next day. The 1980s setting will be familiar to older readers, and intriguing to those aged under ten. This book is about boys having fun, using their imagination and not relying on electronic gadgets, or checking their phones every few minutes. There's no live streaming of mischief here, or photographs of everything that happened, this is good old-fashioned fun and games.

The writing is engaging and the characters are recognisable, and lovable. Mac Black himself has illustrated the book beautifully with colour pictures that bring the story to life.

Recommended for kids, and big kids alike!

Mac Black has had fun performing daft roles in amateur theatre and has written and presented silly poetry - he enjoys writing quirky fiction in the hope of gaining wry smiles. 

Mac's principle hero, Derek is never alone when it comes to looking for misfortune - there are always others in the stories to help him find it! 
Following the successful publication of his five-volume young adult Derek series enjoying Sweaty's exploits as a young man, Mac has now turned back thirty years to the eighties and has started a series for younger readers, exploring Sweaty's childhood.

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