17 Paul Jennings Books that Shaped the 90s

All the great Paul Jennings books of the 1990s.

Disclaimer: If you click a PHASR link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission.

Best Paul Jennings Books

About Paul Jennings

For those unaware, Paul Jennings has been a mainstay in Australian pop culture for decades. He wrote exceptional long and short stories for kids and pre-teens which managed to, somehow, circumnavigate what it was truly like to live as a kid in the 1980s-1990s. Stories which Aussie kids, as well as adults, gravitated to due to the themes that each book explored and the lessons left which helped children and adults truly connect.

Despite the popularity of his books, it was the television adaptation of a single short story entitled ‘Around the Twist’ that cemented the legacy of Jennings as a popular children’s author. A tv show that adapted many of his stories into maddening, weird does of slapstick Australian attitude. So strange, in fact, that to this day, Australian millennials look back at Jennings work as sheer utter genius.

In keeping with the spirit of his book, we’ve put together a quick list of 17 Paul Jennings’ books which truly shaped the 1990s.

RELATED: 13 Great Books about Horror Movies

My collection of Paul Jennings books

1. The Gizmo

The Paul Jennings phenomenon began in the 80s but this book truly cements Jennings as the absolute master of Aussie madness. The Gizmo stars protagonist Stephen, who steals a gizmo which starts to pay him back, in a hilarious maddening of true slap stick furore.

2. Unbearable

Unbearable is a collection of eight quirky, bizarre, and very funny short stories from the brilliant Paul Jennings. So unbearably enjoyable that once you’ve reading it you’ll think to yourself:
“I think I liked that?”

3. Uncollected

Uncollected is a collection of twenty-six unreal, unbelievable and quirky tales that are wildly outrageous, funny, strange, shockingly scary, and written by Australia’s most popular children’s author, Paul Jennings.

4. Unmentionable

The sixth in a collection of short stories, Unmentionable features 9 stories to delight, astonish, strike fear and weird out the hardiest of Aussie kids who grew up in the 1990s. Many of these stories were adapted into episodes on the nation-wide famous show, Round the Twist.

5. Round the Twist

Speaking of the Round the Twist tv show, the book of the same name boasts 3 zany and out of this world bizarre stories from the famous Australian author. Not to mention, the ultimate scoop on how Round the Twist became the well-loved tv show it is today. Including Behind-the-Scenes displays and random tidbits on Paul Jennings’ adaptation.

6. Wicked!

Wicked was the ultimate Aussie team-up of the 90s. Where writers Paul Jennings and Morris Gleitzman teamed up to write this borderline-horror tale where characters Dawn and Rory are fleeing for their lives from slurpring slobberers who want to suck their bones from their skin, strange steel sheep who want to smash them to bits and giant frogs who want to crunch them up.

Despite the mad terror that pursues Dawn and Rory, this book is 110% suitable for kids!

7. Cabbage Patch Fib

Originally published in 1988 after the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of the 80s, Cabbage Patch Fib follows a busy father of six as he sits down to have a serious conversation with his son about where babies come from. The dad tells him they come from a cabbage patch and so the son (Chris) goes to search for a cabbage patch baby later that evening. Trouble ensues when Chris finds a green cabbage patch baby which turns green and purple whenever Chris puts the baby down or gives it to someone else.

90s kids will remember this story famously, as it was adapted for television and seen as an episode on Round the Twist.

8. Uncovered

Uncovered is a collection of brilliant and bizarre stories from the amazing Paul Jennings. Paul Jennings uses these stories as a candid way of approaching complex life issues such as family issues, mental illness, death, etc. Each short story presents an excellent framework to discuss topics with children that could otherwise be cumbersome or awkward to discuss naturally.

9. Unseen

This Paul Jennings book presents another collection of wacky and varied short stories, stories to be read and enjoyed in a single sitting. There’s one about a boy being able to grow new fingers (but not always in the right places), a dead dog which isn’t quite what it seems, the dying wish of a grandfather, a man-eating ghost… – are we getting the Unseen picture yet? 

10. The Gizmo Again

The multi-award winning master of madness, Paul Jennings, returns for another outing in The Gizmo storyline. The Gizmo Again capitalises on the strange and bizarre depicted in the first book (The Gizmo) and cranks it up a few notches. To give you a feel for the weird, here’s a couple of lines:

The girl sucks Jack’s eye. Her tongue is huge and spongy and dribbly. The tip of it goes up one nostril. Jack did something awful with an ice-cream-now it’s his turn to get licked…

Gross? Check. Yuck? Check. Perfect for kids? Check.

11. Undone

Undone continues on the collection of short stories tandem of Paul Jennings’ career. Throughout these stories, Jennings manages to capture both the miseries and the joys of being a child in full colour imaginative stories. Complete with the reality of childhood including hateful bullies, nasty teachers, awesome parents and amazing characters.

The storytelling behind Undone is just another example of why some millennials consider Paul Jennings’ work to be closer to them than their own families are.

12. Thirteen Unpredictable Tales

Thirteen Unpredictable Tales collection of short stories by Paul Jennings – 10 points if you can guess how many!? All of the shorts featured hit the mark on Jennings’ signature style of entirely different, wacky and extraordinary. Subjects range from the longest kiss ever, to a boy who becomes transparent, and as promised – all the stories are unpredictable!

13. Grandad’s Gifts

Grandad’s Gifts is a chilling picture book, illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe, with a twist in the tail. As Paul slowly brings a fox back to life by feeding its fur with lemons from the tree above its grave. But it’s the lemons above Paul’s grandfather’s grave that give the fox its final gift, sight…

One begs to wonder, is Grandad’s Gifts a semi-autobiographical piece on Paul Jennings’ childhood?
Pick it up and make your own assumptions.

14. Come Back Gizmo

Continuing with the Gizmo storyline, Come Back Gizmo is the third instalment in this series. This time involving a mean-spirited ‘hoodlum’ who, via a toilet seat getting stuck on his head, discovers compassion and becomes a hero.

Who would’ve thought that Paul Jennings, of all authors, would buy into the redemption arc gimmick via Freaky Friday storyline?

15. The Cabbage Patch War

The Cabbage Patch War which could easily be dubbed the Cabbage Patch Fib #2, continues on the Paul Jennings’ Cabbage Patch series. Featuring a barbecue from hell, spuds on the roof, a visit from the police etc. It’s madness and mayhem as a war erupts between Dad and Whacka. And Chris (the kid from the first book) is caught right in the middle.

16. Duck for Cover

This one is by Paul Jennings, Ted Greenwood and Terry Denton. Slightly off kilter, even for Paul Jennings, Duck for Cover is a huge book of riddles with humourous cartoon-style picture clues and answers under flaps.

Easily one of those books that will make you nostalgic for your childhood!

17. Sink the Gizmo

Sink the Gizmo is the fourth story in the Gizmo series and features new characters: Ricky and Cal. As they wag school, the two school boys bite off more than they can chew when they come across another one of the dastardly Paul Jennings’ gizmos.

Which is your favourite Paul Jennings book?

Yes, yes, I know. I mainly stuck to the Paul Jennings’ books from the 1990s.
Which one is your favourite book? Did I leave one out?

Let us know on social media.

Make The Other Emails In Your Inbox Jealous.

Get The Best Of PHASR Delivered Weekly

The Perfect Shirt For All Your Special Stains.


Get The Best of PHASR Directly To Your Inbox!

When you sign up for the PHASR newsletter,
you are automatically entered to
win free PHASR merch.