There’s more adventure and lots of laughs as the gang from Hazard River tackle new mysteries in Toads’ Revenge and Blood Money. The stories are great reading for kids aged 8+ who love a holiday adventure and have enough action and laughs to keep even reluctant readers turning the pages. The books are published by Ford Street Publishing and the covers are done by the very talented Marc McBride.
Toads’ Revenge: Jack Wilde, his brother Ben, and his friends Mimi and Lachlan find themselves in a freaky other world in Toads’ Revenge, when they accidently shoot themselves into the future. The kids face their most gruesome adversaries yet – giant mutant cane toads. How will they overcome them and more importantly, how will they get home again?
Here’s a taste of the action:
‘Eenie, meenie, minie, mo . . .’ Ben says, pointing at the buttons as he chants the rhyme.
‘This one looks good,’ he says. He makes a random selection and pulls down a lever for good measure.
The lights in the cinema go down and a nice woman, like a flight attendant, comes on the screen. She starts rattling off some safety instructions. It’s the usual stuff about seatbelts and emergencies. Just why you’d need that stuff to watch a movie is anyone’s guess.
I completely ignore the seatbelt warning. I’m hardly listening at all, until the screen goes black. I wait for the movie to start, wondering what will come up.
That’s when a countdown begins.
‘Ten…nine…eight…’ a serious voice says.
‘We have to get out!’ Mimi shouts, jumping out of her chair. She runs for the exit, banging at the control panel. The door doesn’t budge. The countdown continues.
‘Relax,’ Lachlan says.
But I’m not relaxed. I’m getting nervous. I wish I hadn’t followed the Master of Disaster on another dumb mission.
I jump out of my chair and help Mimi, mindlessly pushing buttons.
The countdown goes on. ‘ Three . . . two . . . one.’
The room starts spinning. Slowly at first, then faster. So fast that I’m hurled against a bare metal wall. Mimi is flung against the door beside me. Lachlan is ripped from his chair. I look around and find Ben. He’s spread-eagled against the television screen. His face is frozen in terror.
We’re all trapped like flies on a piece of honey toast.
‘Enjoy your flight,’ the countdown voice says.
The room is spinning so fast that I can’t
see a thing. It’s all a blur. There’s a flash of white light, a nasty pain between my eyes, then my mind goes blank. (Chapter 1 Toads’ Revenge)
In Blood Money, Jack Wilde thinks he’s made the big time when Ben discovers a bag full of money. Jack and Lachlan want to spend it, but Ben thinks it’s cursed and Mimi wants to take it to the police. The gang decides on some detective work to find out where the money has come from. But that’s when they really get into trouble!
Here’s the point where things start to wrong in Blood Money:
‘ Think, Ben,’ I say. ‘ What were you doing when you first saw the bag?’
Ben scratches his head. He doesn’t say anything. I hope that is because he’s thinking. But he might just be deciding if green thongs are better than red ones. Who knows?
‘I was hanging from the rope swing,’ he says. ‘That’s when I saw the bag.’
Hooray! He thinks!
‘The rope swing!’ I shout, hugging my brother. ‘That’s near here.’
I run through the mangroves until we reach a clearing. A big gum tree stands in the middle. A rope dangles from one of the branches. Dad tied it up there at the start of the holidays. I haven’t used it much, but Ben often comes here. It’s some kind of kangaroo graveyard. Ben likes to look for kangaroo bones. What can I say? It’s just something Stink Collectors do.
I run to the swing and grab hold. I wrap my legs around the rope and swing towards the mangroves. I see something big and black.
‘There!’ I shout. ‘The bag! It’s right behind you, Ben.’
A sports bag is hanging by one handle. It’s on a low branch of a mangrove tree. The bag is bulging. It must be packed with money. I let go of the rope and fly through the air towards the mangroves.
‘Weee!’ I shout. ‘Money does grow on trees!’ (Chapter 2 Blood Money)
Blood Money is fiction, but it was inspired by a true story – a few years ago two brothers were fishing in a quiet creek in NSW and they found a plastic bag full of money – $100,000 in cash! The boys thought long and hard about what to do with it, but eventually handed it in to the police.