Review from jadaykennedy.blogspot.com
Dated 11 February 2010
by Robyn Opie
Genre/age group: Fiction for readers aged
synopsis: The story of a great escape by
the king of the cockroach racing world
and the desperate race against time to
save him from extermination!
Black Baron, Jakes champion racing
cockroach, hasnt lost a race and
Jake is on top of the world. But then his
clean freak mum decides to
clean up his bedroom and discovers Black
Baron in a shoebox under Jakes bed.
Mum is aghast how could Jake keep
such a filthy pest? Black Baron escapes
from his shoebox home, but Jake's mum is
not deterred; she calls the pest
exterminator and a hilarious slapstick
me preface this review by stating that I
detest any and all insects. When I
learned that the Black Baron was a
cockroach I stopped reading. As I
continued to read, the story claimed my
full attention. Jake loved this critter
and feared for its life. I became a
cockroachs cheerleader and feared
for its life, too.
Robyn Opies portrayal of
Jakes search for the racing roach
consumes the reader and they cling to the
hope the Black Baron will be safe. Boys
will empathize with Jakes concern
over his beloved roach.
The length of the book and vocabulary in
the story is well-suited to middle grade
readers. The boy that regularly shuns
reading will enjoy the tale of a boy and
his racing roach. As the story unfolds
and Jakes roach is believed dead
readers will heave a sigh of sadness. At
every twist and turn the reader will be
entertained and wrapped up in the story
clear up to the end. I highly recommend
to read the review on
Reviewed by Sally Murphy,
Black Baron is on the run.
Turning around, Dad glared at me and held
up his hand like a policeman stopping
traffic. Im not sharing my
house with a cockroach as if
He flung his hands in the
air, turned around and stormed off.
Black Baron didnt take up much
room, I thought. Besides, no one was
using the space under my bed.
Hes not hurting anyone,
I tried again.
It isnt natural, Dad
said. People dont keep
cockroaches as pets.
Jakes cockroach, Black Baron, is on
a winning streak. In Fact, hes
probably the best racing cockroach ever.
But Jake knows that Black Baron
wouldnt be welcome in the house if
Mum knew he was there. Thats why
Black Baron is kept under the bed, which
is a great place until Mum tidies
Jakes bedroom and not only
discovers the cockroach but also
inadvertently releases it. When Dad calls
in the exterminator, Jake thinks
hell never see Black Baron again.
Black Baron is one title in the new
Lightning Strikes series from Walker
Books, a series aimed at 9 to 14 year old
readers, and likely to engage reluctant
readers with its contemporary look and
Black Baron is humorous, with chaos
ensuing as Jake searches for his
cockroach and tries to prevent it being
exterminated, but also touches on serious
issues such as family conflict and
financial stress. The friendship Jake
shares with his mates is also a very
positive element of this story.
A great read for upper primary aged
Black Baron by Robyn Opie
Walker Books 2008
to read the review on
Review from Otago
Daily Times, New Zealand
from series books impress
Black Baron by
Robyn Opie (Walker Books, pbk, $15) is a
fast-paced, short novel for junior
readers who are just discovering chapter
The Baron is the best
racing cockroach Jake has had, until his
mum discovers it and targets it for
There are a couple of
narrow escapes before the bug finds a
sort of cockroach heaven. Good fun.
- Raymond Huber is a
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