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About the book
  • Published: 1 November 2013
  • ISBN: 9780857980519
  • Imprint: Random House Australia
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288
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The Kensington Reptilarium




A most unexpected adventure into a world unknown. Enter if you dare . . .

A most unexpected adventure into a world unknown. Enter if you dare . . .

The Caddy kids are home alone and they're having the best time ever. Until a stranger arrives with news . . .

This is the story of how four loud, grubby urchins from the Australian outback find themselves in London for the first peacetime Christmas after years of war.

But their new guardian hates children. He prefers the company of the hundreds of snakes in his house – the Kensington Reptilarium.

Fate lends Kick, Scruff, Bert and Pin a helping hand when outraged citizens call for the Reptilarium to be shut down. With the police about to descend, can the Caddy kids warm Uncle Basti's heart – and have their Christmas wishes granted – before it’s too late?

A feel-good tale that will have you cheering on these four fearless bush kids as they take on the world.

  • Pub date: 1 November 2013
  • ISBN: 9780857980519
  • Imprint: Random House Australia
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

About the Author

N.J. Gemmell

N.J. Gemmell is the bestselling author of seven novels and four works of non-fiction for adults under her full name, Nikki Gemmell. Her work has received international critical acclaim and been translated into many languages. Nikki is currently a columnist for the Weekend Australian's Saturday magazine, and a Friday regular on the Today programme in Australia. Born in Wollongong, Australia, Nikki lived in London for many years but has now returned to Australia with her family. Her first books for children, The Kensington Reptilarium and The Icicle Illuminarium, are about the adventures of four Aussie bush kids in London. Nikki has written and illustrated her latest series for children, Coco Banjo.

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Praise for The Kensington Reptilarium

“Nikki Gemmell’s first book for younger readers is a winner, with an absorbing plot, memorable characters and a greatmix of laughs and emotional depth.”

The Age

“A sweet, whimsical tale about the powerful bonds of family, and about it never being too late to make a change . . . This is a must-read for young fans (aged nine to 13) of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Meg Whelan, Junior Books+Publishing

“Gemmell’s first book for children is . . . Seven Little Australians meets A Series of Unfortunate Events. The themes are familiar, too: such as absent parents, belonging, the spirit of Christmas and coming of age. It’s more than an impression of stories past, though, thanks to the snappy writing, fascinating snippets of real-life events and traditions, and the brilliant Caddy children.”

Angie Schiavone, Sydney Morning Herald

“Nikki Gemmell has written a wonderful tale reminiscent of The Famous Five or The Railway Children. She channels all that is nostalgically great about those kinds of children’s books - where four rough and ready heroes take on the world and win - and given it a modern twist.”

The Hoopla

“The Kensington Reptilarium is one of the most original kids’ books I’ve read in quite some time. [The reptilarium] has the great British eccentricity of something like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with the secrecy and marvel of Willy Wonka’s factory. The admirable and burdened oldest girl – Kick – is also a noteworthy presence as a strong female lead. She is like Turner’s Judy, Blyton’s Anne and Alcott’s Jo – in Blundstone boots. Those girls were my fictional heroines growing up, and I think Kick has similar potential for new readers.”

This Charming Mum blog

“The larger than life characters, the fast moving plot and the addition of special attractions such as Perdita the hooded cobra will engage readers, both boys and girls, from 10 years up.”

Sue Warren, rebelmouse.com

“Adult author Nikki Gemmell has turned her hand to children’s books with impressive results. The Kensington Reptilarium is a quirky tale brimming with larger-than-life characters . . . A warm, funny family story imbued with realism.”

Aleesah Darlison, The Sun-Herald

“Gemmell has crafted an entertaining and original story with multiple layers. Older readers can delve into the wartime context. On a simpler level it is an adventure that uses magic realism to bring to life the treasures of the Reptilarium and fire the imagination.”

Bridget Cormack, The Australian


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