PROFESSOR PUFFENDORF'S SECRET POTIONS PROFESSOR PUFFENDORF'S SECRET POTIONS

by Korky Paul and Robin Tzannes
ISBN (PB) 0192722611
ISBN (HB) 0192799258
Oxford University Press

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Professor Puffendorf is the world's greatest scientist. Her laboratory is a wonderful place full of strange machines that hiss and squeak, and an old cabinet marked 'Top Secret'. And in that cabinet lie her secret potions that can make your wildest dreams come true.

One day she goes out and leaves her assistant, Enzo, behind with her pet guinea-pig, Chip. Now is Enzo's chance to steal the potions, but first he has to try them out on chip. Will they work? What will happen to Chip? And what will happen to Enzo?


The books is being billed as having all the best qualities of British outrageousness just this side of Monty Python.

In our household it stirred a long, serious discussion - never punctuated with laughter - about professional opportunities for women. And for that I'm thankful to Robin Tzannes for PROFESSOR PUFFENDORF'S SECRET POTION.

She reminded me of the powerful impact stories have on the minds and identities of children and that children's book authors, in trying to reflect the reality of society for authenticity's sake, can unwittingly perpetuate sexual stereotypes. She also demonstrated how ingrained the stereotypes are. For, despite the fact I had never discussed professors and scientists with my daughter, she determined those to be male occupations when we began to read the story about the world's greatest scientist.

Barely a page had been covered when my daughter stopped to laugh at what she saw as being another 'funny' part of the story. 'The author has mixed things up. Professor Puffendorf couldn't be a woman, scientists are men.' (Yikes! Mom says to herself.) Needless to say, mother and daughter deviated from Tzanne's prose to discuss the error of these views.

On return to the script, we were titillated by the tales of the remarkable female scientist who has such inventions to her credit as Unburnable Toast, Banana-matic and Smell-o-Telephone.

She also has a loathsome slothful male assistant who schemes ways to gain financial reward from Professor Puffendorf's secret inventions. As events prove, there is good reason he is the assistant and Puffendorf the boss. All his conspiratorial plots and schemes backfire in a big way. By never thinking beyond his nose, he literally trades places with a laboratory guinea pig.

By now, both mother and daughter are laughing and I think what else can a children's book be expected to deliver; Tzanne's book prompted serious observations on life and offered us the chance to laugh as well. To boot, Korky Paul's comic-style illustrations are richly detailed and match the story's style.
TIMES COLONIST 25 APRIL 93, Carolyn Heiman



Plenty of laughs to be had at the expense of a greedy layabout called Enzo in PROFESSOR PUFFENDORF'S SECRET POTIONS by Korky Paul and Robin Tzannes.

Richly detailed drawings are great fun to pore over and I particularly enjoyed the fact that the professor is a woman!
OXFORD STAR 24 DEC 92, Maria Mastroddi



A sense of humour adds immensely to any story for children, and this is much in evidence in Robin Tzannes' PROFESSOR PUFFENDORF'S SECRET POTIONS, where the professor demonstrates her latest inventions, including 'unburnable toast'! The professor's disgruntled assistant comes to an unhappy end when he starts to meddle with her 'top secret' potions. Visually, in Korky Paul's illustrations, the book is wonderfully detailed.
CHILDREN'S BOOKS IN IRELAND DEC 95



Mad scientists never die, they just get re-constructed. The one in PROFESSOR PUFFENDORF'S SECRET POTIONS is female, with stiletto heels, a mean perm, a punk assistant and a put-upon guinea-pig, but the lab equipment in Korky Paul's impressively manic illustrations is pure Heath-Robinson and the story turns (as they nearly always seem to) on luridly coloured elixirs. Silly good fun.
THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 22 NOV 92, Candice Rodd

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