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BOOK REVIEW: Jinny & Cooper – My Teacher’s Big Bad Secret by Tania Ingram

| 14 February 2016 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Jinny & Cooper – My Teacher’s Big Bad Secret by Tania Ingram 

Puffin Books
February 2016
Paperback, $14.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Junior Fiction


9780143308751 (1)

Jinny has wanted a guinea pig for as long as she can remember. A golden guinea pig with soft, shiny fur and a pink nose. For years she has begged her parents for one, to no avail, but on her tenth birthday her mother finally says yes.

Except… the man at the pet store presents Jinny’s mum with an offer she can’t refuse, and now Jinny is stuck with Cooper.

He’s so far from the soft and cuddly pet she was expecting, with his tangled brown and black fur, and his obsession with junk food. And Jinny is pretty sure that other guinea pigs can’t speak, teleport, or turn invisible like Cooper can.

Cooper’s full of useful information.

When Cooper saw Tyrone picking at his bellybutton fluff he warned him that putting a finger in a bellybutton was tremendously dangerous. When Tyrone had asked why, Cooper told him that it would make his legs fall off. He said he once knew a boy whose legs fell off because he poked his bellybutton too hard.

‘You know, you shouldn’t hold in sneezes.’ Cooper piped up. ‘I once knew a boy who held in a sneeze and it went back up his nose and blew his eyes clean out of his head.’
Tyrone looked at Cooper alarmed. ‘Really?’ he asked.
‘Really,’ Cooper replied. ‘His eyes shot across the room and landed in a bowl of noodles.’

He has his priorities in order.

‘Please bring me back a biscuit. I just love biscuits. They’re my favourite food.’

‘Don’t forget to bring me back some caramel mud cake,’ he said with a yawn. ‘Cake just happens to be my second favourite food.’

‘And if it’s not too much trouble, could you make me a jam sandwich? Jam sandwiches are my…’
‘Let me guess, fourth favourite food,’ I interrupted.
‘Actually, my fifth. My fourth favourite food is Vegemite sandwiches, but I finished all the Vegemite last night.’

And he’s convinced that Jinny’s teacher, Miss Bunney, is a witch.

Can Jinny work out what’s really going on, while keeping Cooper from his desire to drop books on Miss Bunney’s head?


My Teacher’s Big Bad Secret is a cute story full of adventure and mystery, perfect for those kids who are seeking books a little more challenging than Billie B Brown, Hey Jack, and Zac Power, but not quite yet ready for Go Girl, Beast Quest, and other more wordy titles.

Unfortunately, in the opening of this book there were quite a few errors, with the name of the man at the pet shop switching from “Gary” to “Garry” and back again many times across the six pages in which he featured, and things were repeatedly placed “into” and “onto” things where other words would have flowed better. As a whole the issues were not things that got in the way of the story, and would not be noticeable to younger readers, though it is always a shame when such a short title shows such inconsistencies, especially when their target is children who are still trying to get a handle on reading.

Kudos do go to Ingram for including a single parent family in this title, something younger books so often gloss over, and for introducing magical elements without turning this into a wholly fantastical title. There are many books in this age group targeted at readers of realistic fiction, and many targeted at those who enjoy magic and make-believe. This title is part of a small subset that bridges the two, including some magic, but in a real school, real world setting.

Overall, the story was cute and well-rounded, and I would recommend it as an interesting title for children in the target group, I just hope the errors are fixed for future printings of the title.

And you should probably keep an on your pets to make sure your children don’t start feeding them chocolate biscuits and cake…

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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