I absolutely love Swapna Haddow and Sheena Dempsey! They’re the dream team who brought us the hilarious Dave Pigeon series, which has been a huge hit at my school (and makes me laugh every time). They’ve teamed up again to bring us the comedy gold that is Bad Panda. In the first book in this new series, Swapna and Sheena introduce us to Lin, a panda who is sick and tired of being called cute and fluffy.
Since the day that she was born Lin’s cute, fluffy face has been adored at the panda sanctuary. Her face is on all of the posters and people bring her gifts. Eventually though, all this fame wears her down. One of the things that Lin loves the most is spending time with her brother, Face-Like-A-Bag-of-Potatoes. Lin’s brother is her hero and she envies his carefree life. When Lin is taken to her new home at the zoo, she vows to do anything she can to get back to her brother. She is going to be a total grotter of a rotter of a panda, so that the zoo will send her home. On the plane to her new home, Lin meets Fu, the other panda who will be sharing her enclosure. Fu is a huge fan of Lin’s and he is only too happy to help her carry out her plans and prove that she is a bad panda. How can she show the humans how bad she is when they only see how adorable and fluffy she is?
Bad Panda is absolutely hilarious! It had me and my 6-year-old laughing-out-loud the whole way through (so much that I had to stop reading because I was laughing so hard). Swapna Haddow’s text and Sheena Dempsey’s illustrations are the perfect combination. You can tell that both of them have had a ball of a time making this book, because it is so much fun to read. I loved the mention of Dave Pigeon in the story too (look out for this!). It’s a story that begs to be read aloud, so you’ll want to find any kids that are willing to listen. You just have to be prepared to read while giggling. Lin’s brother is called Face-Like-A-Bag-Of-Potatoes and I laughed every time I read his name.
One of the things I love about Swapna’s writing is that she makes a joke last. From the list of things that Lin hates (fluffy blankets and unfluffy blankets) to Fu’s suggestions of things that Lin needs to become to get sent home (a bathtub of baked beans?), the longer the joke goes on, the sillier it gets. Swapna also uses some hilarious similes in this book! The pandas are told on the first day of Panda School that going to the zoo is like ‘eating a chocolate sundae with pizza-flavoured sprinkles.’ My favourite simile though is when Swapna describes Lin’s rage erupting in her tummy ‘like an angry hippo trapped in a vending machine.’ Sheena’s illustration for this image is spectacular!
Sheena Dempsey has perfectly captured both the cute, fluffiness and the many moods of Lin. Throughout the story we see Lin’s mischievous grin, her frustration and anger at being misunderstood, and her determination to make her plans work. One of my favourite illustrations of Lin is when she is raking her hands down her face in frustration because Fu isn’t understanding what she’s saying. So many of Sheena’s illustrations made me laugh, especially the hippo in the vending machine.
Bad Panda will have you laughing out loud. It’s the perfect family read aloud, that will work for different age groups, or as a class read aloud for Years 3-6. I can’t wait to see what Lin and Fu get up to next!
Bad Panda is finally released in NZ and Australia this month, although you may have to wait a little longer due to lockdown. Make sure you follow the Bad Panda NZ Blog Tour to find out more about the book from Swapna and Sheena. See the dates below:
2nd September: Book Trailers for Kids and YA – booktrailers4kidsandya.wordpress.com/
6th September: I’ll have a Bad Panda giveaway and a guest post from Swapna Haddow right here on My Best Friends Are Books – bestfriendsarebooks.com
7th September: What Book Next? – whatbooknext.com
8th September: The Book Whisperer – thebookwhisper2.wixsite.com/mysite/blog
10th September: The Sapling – thesapling.co.nz