In a world where teachers are the highest paid members of society, celebrated Australian children’s author Morris Gleitzman turns conventional pay scales upside down as a way of showing the importance of teachers who make a difference. ‘Saving Ms Fosdyke’ is one of ten short stories in this treasure chest of tales designed to capture the interest of even the most hesitant readers. Much of these stories in Pizza Cake are typical Gleitzman in that they are highly creative and imaginative in their content. Young readers will enjoy leaving their fears behind as they journey with the character Glenn in the story of ‘Pizza Cake’ (which the collection of stories is named after) who becomes braver than he ever thought due to a simple combination of sweet and savory! But perhaps it is the ‘Big Mistake’ story that is most relatable with the sibling rivalry coming to a head during a family driving holiday at the Big Banana.
Each of the ten stories is very different to the next in its narrative voice and plot development. This differentiation ensures that reader interest is maintained and would be most suitable for any upper primary student. The stories are short in their length and the concepts are relatable and accessible for even the most reluctant readers.
In terms of its class application, Pizza Cake would suit being integrated into a wide reading programme or being taught as part of a unit on short stories. The language and expression is detailed enough that extracts or a single story could be used to teach creative writing skills and ideas (the variation in sentence length in ‘Harriet’s Story’ for example). As these stories are highly entertaining and humorous for young (and older) readers, they could be used as a part of a wider unit on humour and humorous writing. Gleitzman is to be congratulated on this latest collection of stories that will warm (and gross) the heart.