Born in the UK, Morris Gleitzman emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of sixteen. His career took off as a screenwriter and a newspaper columnist, before he became a novelist. He has written a number of hugely successful children's books, including Two Weeks with the Queen, Misery Guts, Belly Flop and Worry Warts. Blabber Mouth and Sticky Beak have been adapted for Channel 4 television, and won an International Emmy award in 1998.He lives in Melbourne and has two children.
Gr 4-6‘In this sequel to Blabber Mouth (Harcourt, 1995), readers are reunited with rambunctious Rowena, who still communicates with flair despite being aphasic. As usual, she's in trouble. At a going-away party for her pregnant teacher, who is also her stepmother, she tosses a huge bowl of Jelly Custard Surprise over the guests. Everyone thinks it was a clumsy accident, but Rowena confides to her best friend that she threw the dessert on purpose, although she isn't sure why. Soon afterwards she rescues a mistreated cockatoo from the class cut-up, Darryn. This is where the plot takes a wide turn and nearly derails, as Gleitzman tries to draw a somewhat far-fetched and convoluted parallel between Rowena's fear of being replaced by a sibling who can speak and Darryn's wish to get rid of his pet because it doesn't talk. All gets back on track, though, as Rowena pursues this possibility with a zany plan that includes testing her father's love, rehabilitating Darryn, and mending fences with the disgruntled party guests. The satisfying conclusion reassures readers that, for the moment, Rowena is ready to take a place in her new family as daughter and big sister. Although sibling competition is explored in numerous other titles, Gleitzman provides a unique model of a youngster facing daily challenges with humor and determination.‘Sarabeth Kalajian, Venice Public Library, FL
Two ebullient novels from Australia showcase an unusually engaging heroine who has an equally unusual condition: Rowena Batts, the new girl in school, can't speak. As she explains in a letter to her new classmates at the start of Blabber Mouth, ``I was born with some bits missing from my throat. Apart from that, I'm completely normal.'' Longing for a friendly overture and having been humiliated straight away by the class bully, Rowena expects (correctly) that even greater embarrassment awaits her at the hands of her widowed father, an eccentric with a flair for making a spectacle of himself. In the sequel, Sticky Beak, Rowena's kind teacher, Ms. Dunning, has married Rowena's father and is pregnant. Rowena fears she'll be replaced in their affections by a more perfect sibling. Gleitzman (Two Weeks with the Queen) shows his comedic talent in both stories while also conveying Rowena's occasional, wrenching frustrations. Rowena's circumstances may be very particular, but her brio in surmounting an almost universal set of fears should win a wide audience indeed. Ages 8-12. (May)