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Just!
Just Tricking!
Just Annoying!
Just Stupid!
Just Crazy!
Just Disgusting!
Just Shocking!
Just Macbeth!
Just Doomed!
AuthorAndy Griffiths
IllustratorTerry Denton
Cover artistTerry Denton
CountryAustralia
LanguageEnglish
GenreChildren's, comedy short story collection
PublisherPan Macmillan
Published1997 – 2012
Media typePrint (paperback)

Just! is a successful series of short story collections by Australian children's author Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton. The book series is based on Andy Griffiths's early life.[1]

The Canadian animated series What's with Andy?, which ran on Teletoon from 2001 to 2007, was loosely based on this book series.

There have been nine books in the series, with the first book, Just Tricking!, being released in Australia in 1997. Its success and popularity led to its release in North America under the alternative title Just Kidding. Its unique style and cartoon illustrations have proven popular among young readers of the 21st century.

Background

The author, Andy Griffiths, began writing when he was in the fifth grade. He purchased a typewriter at a second-hand stall at school and created his own magazine, which he sold at school for less than five cents. He then continued writing at high school, but for the school magazine.

At university he studied English and American literature and wrote songs for his own rock band, and then went on to study to become a teacher. During his life as a teacher, he began publishing humorous books as the precursor to the “Just!” series.[2]

Griffiths and his illustrator, Terry Denton, spend their collaborative working time in a studio behind Griffiths’ house, which is decorated with gadgets, toys, a children’s book library, a swimming pool, and bowling alley, much like an imagination of a children’s bedroom. They “push each other to new levels” and “drive each other to ever greater levels of silliness and creativity”.[3] Both Griffiths and Denton believe that through their work, books are equally as entertaining for modern children as electronic medium and offer a ‘personalised imaginative experience’ that will vary between children, allowing for individualised creativity.

Denton studied architecture for a short while before leaving University to experiment in the fields of animation, theatre, painting, and cartooning.[4] Denton’s work has been described as “playful, noisy, humorous, colourful, dramatic, and challenging the reader’s lateral thinking”.[5] He has won various awards for his work as both a writer and illustrator during his career, dating back to 1983, when he realised he had an “urge to write”.[5]

Style

Griffiths describes kids’ literature as “either lame or really old-fashioned”, as children, especially in countries outside North America, were being exposed to North American entertainment such as The Simpsons and were increasingly using electronic media. Griffiths also believes his books should reflect his interests in rock and roll, comedy, and pop culture, and in this way, they would be engaging for a modern audience.[6]

Griffiths’ books are also described as being “transitional material for children between 7 and 10 years old”, particularly due to his use of “child-safe humour” through the recurrence of fart jokes and silly puns, and fewer illustrations than many children’s books.[7]

Shaun Tan from The Iowa Review writes that most people believe that the books that most influence them and have made the most impact on the imagination are children’s books or books read during childhood, and that “artists, publishers, booksellers and educators [should] roll up [their] sleeves and get down to the business of making good books".[8]

Mark Macleod notes that much of the stories in Just Tricking deal with the day-to-day lives of the target audience, school-aged children, such as avoiding going to school, and the subsequent battle between parent and child and ultimately, who wins in such a scenario.[9]

Reception

Andrew McMichael from Western Kentucky University wrote:

“The idea is to appeal to their sense of the absurd and crazy, and to push (but not cross) the boundaries of what their parents might consider socially acceptable. The books seem to take the socially accepted norms that kids are forced into in their early years and twist them.”

Mark Macleod writes in The interdisciplinary Press that Just Tricking, the first book in the series, is “fiction for a generation whose favourite response to any lack of resolution is the shrug, ‘whatever’”. Macleod also describes the first-person-tense of the book as ‘problematic’, as it confuses the stories as autobiographical, thus it is unclear if the stories are the ‘adult author’s past recollected’ or joking ideal of the adult author who dodges their way through life ‘as if he were an oversized kid’.[9] Thus Macleod describes the character in the books, Andy, as ‘living in the elusive space between the creator and the text’.

Books

References

  1. ^ "FAQ".
  2. ^ Bangor Daily News. Bangor Daily News.
  3. ^ Wood, Patrick (2016-08-09). "Behind the scenes in Andy Griffiths' and Terry Denton's treehouse". ABC News. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  4. ^ "Terry Denton Books & Biography | Author | Dymocks". www.dymocks.com.au. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  5. ^ a b "Terry Denton - Allen & Unwin - Australia". www.allenandunwin.com. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  6. ^ Black, Eleanor (2016-10-05). "Children's author Andy Griffiths on his Treehouse success". Stuff. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  7. ^ Park City Daily News. Park City Daily News.
  8. ^ TAN, SHAUN (2015). "The Purposeful Daydream: Thoughts on Children's Literature". The Iowa Review. 45 (2): 100–115. ISSN 0021-065X.
  9. ^ a b Yumpu.com. "Negotiating Childhoods - Inter-Disciplinary.Net". yumpu.com. Retrieved 2022-05-15.