Anyone who likes Mac Black’s “Please call me Derek” (and the rest in the series covering his grown-up adventures) will enjoy introducing younger friends and family to his new series, “Sweaty and Pals”. Derek hated his nickname and now we find out how he came by it. Filled with stories about Derek’s exploits with his gang in the eighties, with quirky illustrations (by Mac Black), the stories build on Derek’s ability to find disasters and get himself into one mess after another.
Sweaty’s tales are about little kids enjoying life, before smartphones and computer games came along. Of course, it is just possible – if you are older than five – that you did all these things yourself…
Mac has embraced writing for younger readers with the same quirky clean humour that permeates his YA series. From Sweaty’s first day at school, we meet some of the wonderful characters who pepper the adult books, subtly dealing with issues around prejudice, being different, living with the elderly, losing parents – but in a gentle, no-nonsense way that exposes the social discrimination and values that we took for granted, in those days, but we would not accept, today. This makes these stories a perfect springboard for class discussions about daily life for children thirty years ago compared with now.