Friday, January 7, 2011

Thai-riffic by Oliver Phommavanh

I usually start my blog entries by searching for a copy of the book cover – how funny to discover Thai riffic(minus the dash) really is a Thai restaurant in fact there are more than ten of them listed so I am beginning to think this might be the name of a chain?

If you are a fan of Andy Griffiths, Paul Jennings and Diary of a Wimpy kid then I think you might enjoy Thai-Riffic! I would also recommend this one for students who are reading NIPXI in class and if you want another book with a similar setting you could try The Punjabi Pappadum by Robert Newton.

Our hero in Thai-Riffic is Albert Lengviriyakul or Lengy as his teacher the wonderful Mr Winfree christens him. As is often the way when real school teachers create teacher characters they make them real and funny at the same time. Oliver Phommavanh is a teacher and like Andrew Clements he seems to be in close touch with teachers and with the minds and naughty ways of young Primary School students. I am not saying this book is quite at the same level as the wonderful Andrew Clements but Thai-riffic is worth finding in your library.

One of my favourite chapters in this book is when Mr Winfree is absent and a casual or relief teacher comes for the day. Mr Winfree anticipates trouble so he puts sticky notes all over the classroom. “There are sticky notes everywhere. On the blackboard. On the cupboards. On the windows. Mr Winfree’s desk is covered with notes Back off. Don’t touch. You’ll be sorry. .. Grumpy bear has a note on his forehead that reads, My eyes are cameras.” The kids try the old trick of sitting in different seats but Mr Winfree has this covered too. The relief teacher pulls down the projector screen to reveal a sticky note seating plan. The other lovely thing about Mr Winfree is his collection of stuffed toys which Albert finds childish but which Mr Winfree uses as marvelous teaching props.

While this is not a book that made me jump up and down and want to shout read it read it read there are some funny moments especially when Albert sets himself up for major embarrassments via his parents and their fanatical love of the family restaurant. The illustrations are fun (by the author) and the chapter when the restaurant critic comes to sample the food would make a good read-a-loud. I guess quite a lot of this story might be autobiographical and that certainly lends an authenticity to the settings and humour. Start by reading the chapter headings they will certainly make you smile.

1 comment:

Oliver Phommavanh said...

Hi Momo
Thanks for your cool review of Thai-riffic! I have my second book Con-nerd due soon and wonder if you're interested in reviewing it. I wasn't quite sure how to contact you so I hope this works :-) If you're interested, please contact me at