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Undone!: More Mad Endings (Puffin Books) Paperback – 30 Jun 1994

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Undone!: More Mad Endings (Puffin Books) + Unreal!: Eight Surprising Stories + Uncanny!: On the Bottom; A Good Tip for Ghosts; Frozen Stiff; Ufd; Cracking Up; Greensleeves; Mousechap; Spaghetti Pig Out; Know All
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; Reprint edition (30 Jun. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014036823X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140368239
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 285,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Jennings excels at beginnings that will hook young readers ... readers will relish each tale's competent progress to a fitting and usually ironic end." (The Bulletin)

"I just couldn't put it down and read it over and over again." (Amazon) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

From the master of madness. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
If you havn't read these brilliantly funny novels by most probably the strangest author on the earth then you're well weird. The finest collection of stories Paul Jennings has ever written, I just couldn't put it down and read it over and over again.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's probably unfair of me to write a review of this book, I'm such a huge fan of Paul Jennings work that it's hard to be objective. If you have children, between 6 and 13, especially boys, especially reluctant readers, you must buy everything by this author. He is superb. Imaginative, funny, sometimes sad, often scary but always a master of his craft. He simply makes children want to read. What could be better than that?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Sept. 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
I thought this book was very good but wierd at the same time. I was quite suprised at the endings and they turned out quite different than what I was thinking. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading his other books.
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Fantastic stories. My children really enjoyed the different stories within the book. They were very unique and entertaining. Great book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 0 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Paul Jennings Comes Undone 29 Aug. 2006
By General Breadbasket - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was ten years old, and a big fan of Paul Jennings when "Undone" first came out here in Australia (1993). A new library had opened just up the road, and our fourth grade class went on a trip to check it out. Knowing what a crowd pleaser Paul Jennings books were for kids, the librarian read us a short story from this new collection of his, called "Moonies". "What's a moonie?" she said sarcastically, and everyone laughed. It's not my favourite book in Jennings' "Un" short story anthologies, but it's still fairly good.

There are eight short stories in "Undone", each of them quirky, and each of them very Australian. Here's a summary:

"Batty" is set in the Australian bushland, and features a boy who has been raised by bats. Not my favorite, but it's all right.

"Moonies" is fairly funny. It's features an illiterate boy, who has just moved to a new school. A bully forces him to sign an initiation contract which he signs, not knowing what it says. Little does he know he'll now have to moon the school principal. Will he go through with it?

"Noseweed" is probably one of my two favorite stories from "Undone". An old man has his grandson over. They get on great, they always have, but the grandson hates eating anything healthy for him. His grandpa is determined to get him to eat right, and forces him to drink cod liver oil mixed with museli. The boy drinks it, but does not swallow, which is a mistake because the museli starts to grow. A shoot comes out of his nose...

"Wake Up To Yourself" is all about dreams and reality, and a boy who can't tell which is which. In one, he is a loner who is picked last for sports, in the other, he has a best mate who he has lots of adventures and fun with. If he abandons one, the people he loves in the other will disappear forever. What will he do?

"Thought Full" takes place on a farm, and features a magic bottle that when drunk from gives the drinker the ability to read minds. It's a kind of a unique story, as it is told for the most part in the second person.

"Clear as Mud" features a bug that turns invisible whatever it bites. It also features a bully who gets his comeuppance. What happens that links the two?

"What a Woman" is set at a small school, one of fifteen boys and one girl. They tease that poor girl, making fun of her at sports. That is, until her luck mysteriously changes...

"You Be the Judge" is my other favorite from Undone: strange, inventive and Australian. Features a couple of bizarre beings from the outback. I love the opening line: "A person who eats someone else is called a cannibal. But what are you called if you drink someone?"

Though it's a kids book, I think it's a good read for all ages. If you're a newcomer to Paul Jennings, I wouldn't recommend getting this book first, as there are better ones ("Unreal", "Uncanny", "Unseen", etc). 4 stars from me.
"Thinking is What School is All About. You Could Try it More Often..." 14 Aug. 2009
By R. M. Fisher - Published on
Format: Paperback
Another eight stories by Australian author Paul Jennings: funny, spooky, imaginative and sometimes surprisingly poignant. Back in the 1990s, the popularity of Jennings in Australia and New Zealand cannot be understated. He was in every kid's schoolbag, bookshelf and school project, and it was quite a trip down memory lane to revisit the old familiar stories. Each tale had a neat twist ending that could be horrifying, satisfying or heart-warming, and Jennings was particularly gifted in telling them from what was unmistakably a kid's point of view, capturing their reactions, concerns, lingo and quirky logic in regards to both the bizarre and the mundane. It was no wonder they were so popular, and though I'm writing in the past tense, there is absolutely no reason why these stories shouldn't be enjoyed by the latest generation. They are still as fresh and funny as when I first read them.

"Undone" was one of his later books, and as such some of the stories are a tad less imaginative than his earlier efforts, almost as if he was running out of steam. Many of the stories collected here are simply not that memorable. And yet his writing style is significantly smoother and more refined than his previous work, with more mature themes and ideas, and so there is still much fun to be had from this collection. As always, there is a diverse range of stories here, ranging from charming modern fairytales to surreal wish-fulfillment fantasies, from spooky ghost stories, to vaguely creepy "comeuppance" tales in which bullies are dealt a karmic punishment for their cruelty.

Of this last kind, there are two included in this collection: "Moonies" and "Clear as Mud." In the first, a boy who cannot read is forced by the school bully to sign a contract that requires him to moon the principal from the town bridge. Humiliated and upset that his punishment means he's lost his chance to showcase his art at the local gallery, the boy challenges the bully to do the same thing...only the bully's contract is reworded to ensure that he can perform the stunt from a place that hides his identify. How can our protagonist ensure that the principal recognizes the mooner?

The second, "Clear as Mud" is possibly one of Jennings' most unforgettable stories; simply because of its scope, situation and mind-blowing conclusion (not for nothing does this story provide the image for the cover-art). A school bully decides to ruin the prospects of a nerdy classmate who has discovered a new species of beetle. He breaks into the science department at night and steals the unusual bug, only to be bitten. When he wakes up the next morning, his skin is slowly becoming transparent to reveal the bone, muscle and blood underneath. Fleeing into the bush, he spends the next ten years in the bush with only the bug and a dog who catches his condition for company. After ten years, he promises to eat the beetle...but what follows is nothing that he could have possibly anticipated. Let's just say the bully's dog is called "Hopeless" for a reason.

It's a troubling story, the ramifications of which could upset a young reader (judging from my own experience, though perhaps I was just too sensitive), and doesn't really "fit" into the rest of Jennings' stories, which all give the impression that though it is a strange world out there, the status quo will always be restored. Here, the world itself is up heaved in a rather disturbing way. Let this be said about it though: it's unforgettable.

"Thought Full" and "What a Woman" both use a familiar technique that pops up frequently in Jennings' work; in which a helpless protagonist obtains an object that grants them supernatural abilities. In the first, Bomber is compelled by some mysterious force to go digging in a bog, eventually unearthing a strange witch-shaped bottle that (when drunk from) allows him to read the minds of those around him. In the second, Sally is a girl struggling with the fact that she's the only girl in her school, beaten at every physical challenge that she's required to participate in...until the day she takes her great-aunt's paperweight to school and finds herself excelling in every sport. Both are charming enough little stories, but I must confess that neither one stayed with me since reading them as a child: I'd actually forgotten completely the denouncement to "What a Woman."

"Noseweed" is a strange but highly amusing story that recounts the battle of wills between a grandfather and his grandson who refuses to what his grandfather calls "healthy food," specifically: cod liver oil. In a change of pace, the tale is told in first-person narrative from the grandfather's point of view, in which he force feeds his grandson a spoonful of muesli and cod liver oil down his throat and refuses to let him spit it out. The tables are turned on Grandpa though when a plant begins to grow around his grandson's head - but with something he's been longing for on the branches.

"Wake up to Yourself" is perhaps most surreal of Jennings' stories: whether it's thought-provoking and poignant, or simply too random and nonsensical, is entirely a matter of opinion. A lonely schoolboy looking after his pregnant mother wishes for a friend and wakes up one day to find himself the best friend of a kid called Possum. The catch is that in this new world his mother is dead and he lives with Possum's parents. But soon enough he's forced to make a difficult choice when the chance comes to return to his own world. I'm divided on the story; although it taps into a typical child's existential ponderings, "what if this life is just a dream?" it also comes across as a little haphazard. Usually the strange occurrences in Jennings' stories are either explained (in terms of *why* they are happening), or grounded in reality. This one has neither.

Finally, the opening and closing stories of the collection are two of Jennings' best, calling on his appreciation of the Australian outback in order to provide a vivid setting. In "Batty" a young girl and her father head out into the outback in order to save a colony of bats from their unstable cave, and on the way meet a wild boy who wears the bats as one would wear a long coat. When her father is injured, it's up to Rachel herself to save the boy and the bats. This isn't just an adventure story; it's a story of a girl's awakening to herself and the world around her.

"You Be the Judge" is another story set in the wilds, in which a boy and his father open up a motel on the edge of the desert, the father being a firm believer in the story of "the Wobby Gurgle," a legendary creature said to roam the wilderness. One night the boy spots damp footprints outside his window and foolishly follows them out into the desert. Sure enough, he finds the Wobby Gurgle, described as "a man-shaped balloon filled with water," but is stranded out in the desert. But the gentle creature uses his own mass to allow the boy to drink whilst he guides him home - though his own life begins to drain away as he does so... I can't bring myself to bring away the ending, save to say that this is an immensely touching story of sacrifice and choice, and one of my absolute favourite Jennings' stories. It alone is worth the cost of the entire book.

Written with imagination and flair, "Undone" might not be the best book in Jennings' canon of stories, nor the best anthology for a newcomer to his work to start with, but is a treat for a Jennings connoisseur and ends with a pure gem of a story.
Love these books! 13 May 2007
By Suzanne - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've just recently discovered the Paul Jennings "Un" series of short stories. As far as I'm concerned, Paul Jennings is brilliant! I think I've become addicted to these books because I can't seem to get enough of them. This is my first year teaching struggling readers in a middle school and I'm hoping to get my students hooked on these books as well.
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