by Kathryn Apel
Published by UQP
paperback RRP AUD $ 16.95
I really enjoy verse novels particularly when well done, as this one is. I enjoyed some of the images, like this of the two brothers who are told by their mum to stay together as they walk the 2 kilometres to school.
but sometimes the road stretches
our own silent thoughts.
Other times we walk
shoulder to shoulder
This verse novel is told in the voices of the two brothers, Shaun who is ‘good at everything’ and Toby who is awkward and who struggles at school and at home. The prospect of Sports Day is for Toby, the worst day of the year. I’m sure there are plenty of kids not good at sports who share that view. But things change for Toby when someone believes in him and shows him what he can do.
The image at Athletics Camp Day One as children from different schools gather, is very telling
mostly, we’re all strangers;
we don’t mix,
each in our own bubble
the ice to
Another image I liked was where Toby says his hands, ’feel like they’re made of marshmallow.’
There is a lot to like in this novel, from its bright cover to the clever use of language as it reveals the two boys and the situation. However, while I liked the idea of the story being told from two voices I thought it was sad to see the relationship or lack thereof between the brothers. It is sibling rivalry portrayed as each boy thinks the other is favoured by their parents. I have never had a brother and I am not the target audience for this book so maybe it is an accurate portrayal of siblings. Plus I was one of those kids who hated sports days, so that made this harder for me to read. That said, this is a great example of a verse novel, the two voices work well and it ends up being a book with a positive uplifting message woven into the story and that has to be a good thing .