Saturday, 25 November 2006

Aunt Effie and the Island that Sank, Jack Lasenby, 2004

AUNT EFFIE AND THE ISLAND THAT SANK Jack Lasenby, Longacre Press, 187 pages, paperback, NZ$16.95. ISBN 1-877361-01-1

Jack Lasenby’s Aunt Effie is the exciting relative everyone wishes they had. In Aunt Effie and the Sinking Island, she sweeps her 26 nieces and nephews off on a treasure-hunting voyage by Kauri scow across the Hauraki Gulf and Waikato, using a red-covered Whitcombe & Tombs School Atlas to navigate. As well as treasure maps, pirates, zeppelins, a gummy-mouthed shark, a one-woman submarine, cannibal eels, and a prime minister with a tax-gambling problem, this tall tale offers a marvellous car race and Aunt Effie’s “highly unsuitable tales” for the little ones. There is also a charming reference to the classic Under the Mountain [by Maurice Gee] when water spouts from One Tree Hill while Rangitoto is sinking. Jack Lasenby is our funniest fantasist.

Trevor Agnew

First published in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand, on December 24th 2004

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