• NZ Booklovers

The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty: Book 1 by Rhys Darby

The shining star of madcap mayhem, Rhys Darby, dives into the book world with his first mystery-comedy book for kids. Loaded with Darby’s unmistakably quirky and random humour, 12-year-old Buttons McGinty pens top secret scribbles in a series of notebooks, as he and his friends enter a universe unlike anything they’ve ever experienced.


Buttons has been shipped off to Ranktwerp Island Education Fortress for Gifted Lame Unruly Minors, aka RIEFGLUM, a boarding school somewhere near New Zealand.


His parents are missing under strange circumstances, and there are baddies and a bigfoot on the prowl.


The book is set out like an actual notebook – there’s scribbles and doodles, morse code to crack – all drawn by Darby himself. The story jumps and meanders, just like a real journal does as the writer processes their day. It’s both fun and funny, while also telling a great story.


Darby is a self-confessed ‘amateur cryptozoologist’ – and hosts a radio show about the topic with Buttons, aka Leon Kirkbeck, and journalist David Farrier. His interests in this pseudoscience shine through, with creatures from the subculture featuring in the story. Darby’s unique humour is also to the fore in the book. Those who have seen his comedy shows will have a hard time reading this book without hearing his distinctive voice in your mind.


Aimed at the eight to 12-year-olds, it’s a laugh-out-loud mystery-comedy that begs readers to get involved. Morse code is littered throughout the book, providing clues and additional jokes. Never fear, a handy Morse code alphabet is also included within the covers.


Darby’s author profile at the end of the book is also particularly touching. His hope to inspire the younger generation to dream, to write, to imagine, to explore, is right there in black and white.


Darby’s talents certainly extend beyond the comedy stage and into the book world. Buttons McGinty is bound to delight, and inspire.


Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Scholastic, RRP $17.99

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