One of our favourite family read aloud was by South African author Jaco Jacobs, and it is called A Good Day for Climbing Trees. Recently, at the launch of all good children’s books for the year from PanMacmillan South Africa, we got to learn a whole lot more about this prolific author. You can read a Q&A Interview with the Jaco Jacobs on the PanMacmillan site here.

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Jaco Jacobs is one of our kids all time favourite authors, the fact that he is a local writer is everything. His stories are funny, creative and about real live children in real live situations, and because they are local situations our South African kids can relate to them so well. Not only that but his books are often launched in English and Afrikaans, and I buy both copies for our kids… its great for easy learning of Afrikaans. Otherwise, if you are looking to introduce your kids to Afrikaans then you cannot beat his Afrikaans poetry. And back in the day, like two months ago, we would continuously have a Jaco Jacobs poetry book out of the library… my kids love his poetry so much that someone always has them out.

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Grandpa Zombie by Jaco Jacobs and illustrated by Theodore Key

In my previous blog post I mentioned that this year’s book event from Pan Macmillan had a Zombie theme… well Jaco Jacobs is the why!!! Grandpa Zombie arrived in our house very soon after the event and it was immediately inhaled… immediately.
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Grampa Zombie is about a boy called Alex and his Grandpa, not to mention a Zombie virus. I am guessing that when this book was written the author had no idea what 2020 would be bringing us (and it does say on the first page that if a zombie virus ever breaks out, then he will hide with his family in hte Karoo, and they will survive on tomato juice, tinned fish and sour worms… we have been wondering how Jaco Jacobs is fairing through the lockdown)… The book is about a virus that turns people into zombies, and their only respite is if they eat broccoli. Alex and his Grandpa have a great relationship hanging out together when school is closed and his parents refuse to stay home from work.

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Needless to say, Grandpa refuses to stay safely at home and a trip to the local coffee shop turns out to be somewhat disastrous for him… and so for Alex as well. This book is pure fun and full of interesting factoids, that appear in fact sheets that look like real newspaper cuttings. Hood 8, a truly fact loving ten year old absolutely revelled in Grandpa Zombie.

Zack of Zucchini Street

Jaco Jacobs has two other books out and in our review pile right now. They are easy reading for first chapter book readers… three great stories in each book. Pure fun, just wholesome reads. These books are are illustrated by Alex van Houwelingen, a South African illustrator and you can meet him on his website here. These books are story collections and each story is about ten chapters long. The chapters are short, fast paced and interesting, so great chapter books for emerging readers, who have no time for boredom.

Zack Attacks


  1. The Magnificent Magic Trick: In this book we meet Zack, who lives in bright yellow house on Zucchini Street. The story begins on “just another boring afternoon,” and then Zack discovers a Magic Trick Box. The first story in the series, and we get to meet Zack’s best friends and conquer the school bully. It is a great start to a series. Not to mention one or two magic tricks described at the end of the first story.
  2. The (Almost) Incredibly Awesome Idea: Zack and Vincent decide that they are going to write a newspaper together… The Zucchini street news, a number of their news stories may not have had the most angelic intentions… but it turns out, good intentions were just what the neighbourhood needed.
  3. The Dreadfully Disgusting Kiss: Zack decides to try out for the part of Terrible Troll in the upcoming school play, only Brett Burns the school bully has already decided the part is his. Zach ends up having a part that he absolutely dreads… he may have to kiss the heroine. Only a last minute, desperate plan will help him to escape his fate.

Zack is Back


  1. The Masked Green Mamba: In this story Zack and his friend Vincent, dress up as super heroes and then they go on a hunt for folk to rescue… and end up solving a real crime.
  2. The Spooky Story: In this story Zack and Vincent decide to camp in the garden overnight, what better adventure. Only they are disturbed in the night by a ghostly figure and they are terrified. The ghostly figure could have been the elderly neighbour looking for her cat, and the two boys become the laughin stock of the entire school. Just keep in mind he who laughs loudest…
  3. The Miserable Match: Zach and Vincent are in the B team at rugby and what’s worse is their coach is one of the teachers from their school and SHE spends more time on her phone to her boyfriend than coaching them and they believe they are going to be the laughing stock of the rugby league. And to make things worse she spends the remaining precious rugby training time teaching them a song to sing before their matches… the humiliation is real. The story is fast paced and a couple of near disasters… and a lovely surprising twist. All’s well that ends well.

We would really like to thank PanMacmillan South Africa for the copies of these books that we received for review purposes. This post is not sponsored in any way and the opinions expressed are as usual our own.

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