Author: Rhys Darby
Publisher: Scholastic New Zealand
Date of Publication: 2018
Ages: 8-12 years
Reviewer: Nova Gibson
Job: Library Manager
School: Massey Primary School
Rhys Darby, a NZ actor and comedian, delves into the world of children’s books with this humorous mystery written in first person.
Buttons’ parents are missing and Nana has developed dementia and can no longer care for him, so Buttons McGinty finds himself on his way to a boarding school: Ranktwerp Island Education Fortress for Gifted Lame Unruly Minors, aka RIEFGLUM, somewhere near New Zealand. He keeps a record of his adventures in the form of a notebook. It is full of Buttons’ observations and secret recordings, quirky doodles and pictures; and morse code.
The plot jumps and meanders, not unlike a real journal would, as Buttons processes his day. However, Buttons’ laugh-out-loud observations do not detract from the main story. There is a mystery to solve: is this a bona-fide school or is something sinister going on? And what does it have to do with his missing parents? Buttons does make friends at this school but who can he really trust?
This is book 1, and at the end of the book, Buttons is given another blank notebook to keep a record of his further adventures beyond the ‘portal’. Fans of DWK, Timmy Failure and more will look forward to the sequel.