Review of Wicked from Son of a Bar Fly (May 15, 1997)

I get quite excited whenever a new Paul Jennings' book appears. I have been his fan from the day that Gizmo did its magic tricks and I want the parents out there to know that he is about to hit the book stores again.

This time there will be double trouble. This is tandem writing. Paul Jennings has combined his talents with none other than the 'dahlish' Morris Gleitzman, and young readers will know that this dynamic duo spells 'major spooky'.

Penguin Books are calling this "the most exciting publishing project ever..." and I know the young readers will agree, even if they do not fully appreciate the logistic behind this project. Wicked will just suck them in.

The collaborative novel is in six parts, with the Part One, Wicked, to appear in June, then with follow-up episodes monthly to November. Both writers have already millions of fans and working together they are set once more to take the country by storm with this original project.

Their collaborative creation is different because their voices will be independent. Chapter by chapter, voice by voice - they will be writing each chapter separately, than following on from what the other has invented. And it works. Wicked kept me spellbound or, as the blurb said, "It sucked me in." Totally!

There is not much point in discussing the plot. Wicked is the overture and a promise of more weird and spooky things to come. I can tell you this much: Dawn's father is marrying Rory's mother and the two kids absolutely hate each other. Dawn thinks Rory is disgusting because he keeps worms. Neither of them realise, until it's too late that these are not just worms, they are deadly slobberers who grow and multiply at a tremendous rate and can suck the insides out of other living beings - bones and all - leaving just an empty bag of skin. Rory, the worm boy as Dawn calls him, has put a few of these slobberers into the stew which their newly wedded parents are taking with them on the honeymoon camping trip. That's how the creepy and scary adventure begins. But can Rory and Dawn who are sworn enemies get it together against the march of slobberers and find their missing parents?

It's a lot of fun - it's scary, weird and spooky and your kids will never forgive you if you deny them the double pleasure of Jennings and Gleitzman.

W. (John) Kotow, Son of a Bar Fly (May 15, 1997)