'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 16 September 2023

Review: Who's The Gang On Our Street?

For those whose neighbourhood calm is often shattered, whose heads are occasionally clobbered with plummeting missiles, and whose picnic victuals are frequently raided, this book is for you. 

Who’s The Gang On Our Street? by Susanne Gervay and Nancy Bevington attempts to answer the conundrum of exactly who is responsible for this cacophony of cheeky chaos?

It's a joyful new picture book that explores a typical suburban cul-de-sac (I got Neighbour’s vibes but it could be a location found in any Australian city) and the gang of troublemakers that co-exist alongside a troop of neighbourhood kids.

Said eclectic group of friends have their own garage band, coincidentally named ‘The Gang’ and share busy days together kicking around soccer balls, racing billycarts, and sharing sweet delights. Typical run-wild, spirit-filled kid play. But this new ‘gang’ has them bamboozled. Who is it that is challenging their funky-punky urge to play and scream with glee?

Gervay’s narrative is a delightful answer-the-riddle-set up with teasing inquisitive lines that jiggle and dance across the pages to a backdrop Bevington’s colourful images. Each spread makes a comparative statement that invites readers to ‘look and search’ for the answer. Hints are secreted in each and every spread, giving readers, young and old alike, plenty of ooh and ahh, giggly moments.

The result is a riot of fun. And the answer to this mystery? Well, it’s a squawky, gorgeous final full spread reveal that invites even more delight.  Not only does this picture book celebrate one of Australia’s best known but maybe under-appreciated native birds, the good old Sulphie, better known as the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, it cleverly draws playful parallels between rumbustious pre and primary schoolers and cheeky cockies. These comparisons elicit joie de vie whilst embedding a deeper understanding and appreciation for this very intelligent species of bird. A fully illustrated Fun Facts page explains and then tests new knowledge at the end of the book rounding off an informative yet entertaining experience.

Picture book homage has been paid to other less well understood birds including the much-maligned Bin Chicken aka Straw Necked Ibis so it’s a welcome relief to see the raucous Sulphie showcased so enthusiastically. Who’s The Gang On Our Street? is a tribute befitting many of the amazing attributes of the sulphur crested cockatoo and our exuberant Australian way of life suggesting this is one gang we can live with more harmoniously.

Title:  Who’s The Gang On Our Street?
Author:  Susanne Gervay
Illustrator:  Nancy Bevington
Publisher:  Big Sky Publishing
Publication Date:  September 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781922896803
For ages:  3 – 7
Type:  Picture Book