Review: Untwisted by Paul Jennings
Then, about a year later, I caught a few episodes of Round the Twist. Older and wiser, something clicked. Jennings was actually a comic genius. And maybe I was the idiot for judging his books by the covers. (Gosh, maybe there is even a good story in there too.) Anyway, I read all of his books until I got too old for them, and I still joke about wunderpants to this day, but I could never quite forgive Jennings for the titles and the covers. And maybe, just maybe, that meant that I wasn't going to be the best person to read, let alone review this latest work. (And maybe I'm not. I have just spent a disproportionate amount of time describing my own experiences with his children's books and television show.)
What I got with Untwisted was a frank and amusing account of the many, many different experiences that have shaped the author and, inevitably, his work. I was absolutely fascinated to learn how the lighthouse setting for Round the Twist came about--at one time, Jennings was a single dad, living in a transportable house on a clifftop that overlooked the sea and his family life during that era influenced the script, which, quite possibly, explains why a television series were so many wonderful and unbelievable things happen, has such a realistic feel to it, and most certainly contributes to the series' success. Initially, Round the Twist was to have a similar house, but this proved too expensive and lighthouse was chosen instead. And what makes this series all the more remarkable is that Jennings had never worked on a television script before.
But that is just one portion of his memoir.
Equally interesting are his experiences of coming from England to Australia as a boy with his parents and younger sister Ruth. His father was a thoroughly selfish man, and many of the sections that featured Arthur Jennings made my blood boil.
Again, those are just one portion of his memoir. And had those two things make up this book alone, I would have considered it to be a thoroughly interesting and well written behind the scenes look at a beloved Australian author. That it also details his rise to success as an author, and experiences as an author and an account of a thoroughly interesting teaching career--in which Jennings' worked stints teaching students with additional needs and then did two years of teaching at a juvenile detention facility--makes it a must read. Untwisted is an open, honest and utterly readable book about an author and the many different things that influenced him.
This book was read for the Aussie Author Reading Challenge 2020